Friday is Afghanistan’s day off, and last Friday, I headed out to Band-e-Amir, Afghanistan’s first national park, with friends Gull and Jawad, and their respective families. There were 8 adults and 1 adorable infant crammed into what we call a ”面包车“ in Mandarin – bread car in English – so named because they resemble nothing more than a loaf of bread.
It was as far away as you could get from the realities of conflict, instability, and uncertainty that make up so much of the Afghanistan coverage these days. But then again, we were in Bamyan, Afghanistan’s safest province.
The day was characterized by stunningly beautiful scenery; good weather (the snow started only after we were halfway through with our epic picnic); and lots of laughter. There was the moment when we decided to squeeze 5 people into a swan-boat clearly built for 4 (“No problem, no problem! It actually fits six!”), as well as the running joke about the “Talebs” – really just traditionally dressed men enjoying their Friday off – that seemed to be following us throughout the park.
But my favorite was a joke told by 17-year-old Zaqi as we headed out of the park:
One day, the New Zealand PRT had lunch with some local village elders. At the end of the meal, they wanted to thank their hosts. They said, “Thank you for your great hospitality. We loved the food.”
But the interpreter was confused. Instead, he translated, “Thank you for your great food. We will build you a hospital.”
The real punchline? Zaqi concluded with: “Well, at least I think it’s a joke…”