Hallelujah in Herat
Written by Nathan Gallahan   
Saturday, 19 February 2011 04:17

PRT Herat | Day 25 – The weather here astounds me. Tuesday it was beautiful blue skies and the helicopter left us standing on the helipad. Wednesday it was dark grey skies and pelting down rain preventing any helicopters from reaching us. This morning, we awoke to beautiful blue skies again and we finally made it out of Kabul.

We originally planned to be in eastern Afghanistan today, but we traveled west so we could get moving. We’ve decided to extend our 30 Days Through mission for approximately five days, to give us a chance to cover everything we need to. The story is more important than the timetable.

We jumped aboard a U.S. Air Force C-130, which made a quick pit stop at Kandahar Air Field. When we found out we were going back to drop some soldiers off, Ken and I just looked at each other and prayed the plane wouldn’t break. We made it to Herat this afternoon and were greeted by our Italian hosts.

One of the first things I noticed was the dirt. Everywhere else we’ve been its seemed the ground was a giant sand box, or a slightly darker version. When rain hits, it turns everything into mud. Here, it’s dirt and it’s very refreshing. We grabbed some lunch and the next thing we knew, we were jumping into some Italian armored cars to head out to the PRT. A long the way, we stopped to watch a quick road opening ceremony. The PRT had paved a road to make life easier for the local population.

Immediately when we left the gate this place seemed familiar. Then it hit me, in a way it reminds me of back home. There were big pine trees, grass, dirt and mountains. I’m from North Idaho, and they burn the fields there to prepare the earth for new crops. So basically, burning smells like home and I smelled it when I got out of the car.

Although we were just standing there looking pretty, the ceremony went well and we jumped back in the cars and headed down the road. Herat is another world. When we were up North we thought it was developed. But Herat is at another level. It’s a rare moment that Ken and I aren’t bickering back and forth or debating this and that, but during this drive we were speechless. This city could pass for any run down western city.

There were office buildings, homes, nice walls, paved and painted roads, big tree lined boulevards, soccer fields, play grounds, restaurants with lots of lights and there was even a store specializing in selling treadmills.

The image that will last the longest in my mind was the soccer game. In one of the city p arks we passed, there were teams in colored jerseys pla ying against each other, while parents were watching their little ones laughing and playing in a nearby playground. It was such an abnormal experience to see something so normal here.

While driving through the middle of the city, we pulled through some gates, which turned out to be PRT Herat. The Italians have a little compound, right here in the city, surrounded by walls and security. Afghans are living their city lives less than 100 yards from me.

We met our point of contact who gave us a quick tour and showed us to chow and we started working. While today I haven’t really learned anything other than I have a ton of questions about this place, I did get a chance to talk to another secret man. Secret man conversations are the best because its fun to talk with them until they jump on a soap box. The only bad thing about talking to secret man is that I realize I have very little understanding of everything that happens in this country. Our conversation revolved around warlords and their effects on society, governance and anti-Afghan fighters. The basic synopsis is that warlords are big power brokers and they affect every level of society in this country. After a good 30-minute conversation, that’s about all my brain could soak up, although I retain hope I’ll be able to conjure up more information for future blogs or replies.

I’m really excited about tomorrow! The Italians have a big day lined up for us and I need to get some sleep. Let me know of any questions floating around for the Italians, Afghans or PRTs in general, I’ll do my best to get some answers for you.

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Comments (4)add comment

dennis said:

I see Herat castle is being renovated. Hope to see it.
March 05, 2010
Votes: +0

Alan Krutchkoff said:

Guys, great to see even little flashes of the streets in Herat. so cool. Thanks ever so much! Love the glimpses of the country and it's also heartwarming to see our allies supporting us!
March 05, 2010
Votes: +0

dennis said:

Yeah glad you made it out.Hit the photos, and wow what a place.smilies/shocked.gif
March 05, 2010
Votes: +0

Chris said:

First Impressions
Herat looks amazingly different than what we've seen of Afghanistan so far. Why is that? Why are they seemingly left alone...or are they? Is it because it's not strategically important to the Taliban? Do they have stonger governance/security there for some reason? More resources? I thought maybe we'd wandered off to another country! Can you caption some of the buildings if you find out what they are. Looking forward to learning more tomorrow!
Thanks for all your efforts to make your way out to these places and sharing it all with us!
March 05, 2010
Votes: +2

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