To Afghanistan!

Vacationing in Turkey in 1976 I met een French girl (M.J.), who spoke with great enthousiasm about her trips to Afghanistan, where she had friends. They had advised her not to wait too long before taking another trip in view of the political situation. Would I be interested to join a little group she was trying to form? Although fond of travelling I had my doubts. I did not know anything about this country!

When visiting her later on in Paris she showed me books, pictures and objects and my interest was aroused. During that same visit I met other French people who all knew (about) Afghanistan and urged me to go! When still in Paris I  bought books and maps and back in Holland (where no information of this kind was available) I telephoned our Foreign Office for more details. Fortunately our Ambassador –residing in New Delhi – had just completed an inspection trip to Afghanistan and his report was shared with me. It appeared that Afghanistan,  having been a monarchy, was now a republic, the President being a member of the former Royal family. The country leaned more towards the West than towards communism and there seemed to be no obstacles to travel around there.  Don’t forget that the first kidnaps had already taken place and we were considering to travel with an international group.

Finally there were 4 of us: M.J., her well-travelled lady friend S., a male companion G. and myself. Plans were made, tickets bought and arrangements made with the couple in Kabul who would provide a car with chauffeur and the necessary papers.  A week before our planned departure the travel agency cancelled our tickets without explanation…  M.J. and I spent a whole Saturday afternoon in Paris visiting as many travel agencies  as possible and just before closing time we found tickets for Brussels-Moskow-Tasjkent-Kabul and back Kabul-Tasjkent-Moskow-Paris! The following week I fell ill but went to Brussels anyway where I met the others, who thought that I was looking green! We went on a shopping spree for our hosts at the airport and stayed at a hotel there.

Aeroflot Ticket

The next day – October 11 – our long, long trip to Kabul started. We had  a 9-hours’ stop-over in Moskow, in which we had to take our extensive luggage from one place to another and vice versa and had to fill out many forms….  We were completely isolated from the outside world (no passport, no tickets, no telephone). We almost missed our plane to Tasjkent as our passports had been locked up somewhere…… Same procedure in Tasjkent! After a sleepless night we landed the following day in a sunny Kabul, what a pleasure!