Corolla spells t-r-o-u-b-l-e
As I was driving out of the DACAAR compound, shortly after it had started to rain, I realized that the BBC weather report had actually been right. A while later, as I was coming down Jalalabad road, ready to do some shopping at one of the three supermarkets-for-foreigners, I noticed my car slanting slightly too the right. Realizing I had a flat, I figured the best would be to turn around and get to the office before I would have to change the tire on the spot. No luck, as only minutes later, not only was the car slanting to the right, it was also notably overhanging to the right. I got out and saw the right-back tire was completely empty.
Getting out the spare, I noticed there being no thingamajig for lifting the car from the ground. Three kids had already gathered around me to continuously comment on the situation. I asked a taxi driver, who couldn’t or wouldn’t help me, but a second taxi driver almost immediately jumped out and started to help me change the tire, using the thingamajig he had with him.
As we were changing the tire, the three kids noticed that the right-front tire now also was flat. The most easy thing to do in a situation like this would be to call DACAAR and let logistics solve this. Not so now, considering my phone disappeared last week and I found it rather pointless to replace it for this last week in the country (even though, indeed, some American was kidnapped only three days ago (he managed to break free)).
Then, while looking at the second flat, we noticed oil leaking from the car. Meanwhile, the rain had changed from a mild drizzle to a steady downpour. This was starting to look bad.
However, with the taxi driver, I also had a bit of luck. Of course, nothing was for free but almost immediately, the driver suggested changing my spare for his spare, giving me an extra good tire. Still, that one turned out to be too small, even though almost all cars in Afghanistan are Toyota Corollas and we were both even driving the same model.
Changing his mind, he drove off with my spare flat, coming back only minutes later, with the same tire, fixed.
Then I had to get back to the office. Oil was still leaking from the car and I didn’t want to get caught out in the middle of nowhere. The under 15 minute drive took me close to an hour, traffic was bad. The many military convoys, probably out on the streets because of Donald Rumsfeld’s visit, didn’t really help either.
Last week, I hoped I would be in Herat, this week. Not so. I wanted to fly on Sunday, but no tickets were available for that day. Then, thinking it over, I decided that flying on Monday would also be an option, even though some dodgy foreign delegation had chosen that same day to fly to Herat.
One of the reasons why Herat is supposedly interesting is because of some architecture but also, supposedly, it’s considered the most Iranian part of Afghanistan. Then, driving to the Iranian border from Herat only takes some 30 minutes. I figured it would be nice to actually see my country from the ground.
So I went back to the Ariana office, only to find out that now all seats for the Monday and Tuesday flights were also booked. What to do, Herat didn’t seem to be an option anymore.
As an alternative, I jumped on the possibility to join Masi in going to Kandahar and Gazni, on IT business. We would be away for three days and although Kandahar nor Gazni are supposedly to be that spectacular, it would be more interesting, compared to Kabul, where I now have already spent two months.
But no. Wind of my trip got to Eddi, who talked it over with Gorm, the director, who said that my going to Kandahar by road was not an option. Too big a security risk.