Monday, February 22, 2016


                                                                        Khyber Pass

                                                                       Lahore, Pakistan

After living in Kabul for almost a year, I began my vacation.

I could have stayed in Kabul for my month off from teaching at the university, but I wanted to leave a cold and snowy Kabul.

My decision to take this vacation was premised on my hope to travel to a warmer climate.

I had my eyes set upon Sri Lanka. 
I was confident I would get to the warm, ocean waters.

Fate had other plans for me.

I had not taken a shower for a couple of weeks because my wood-burning water heater's pipes were frozen.

In addition to the bitter cold, I was feeling quite ill. The U.S. Embassy nurse even took my blood and did some tests. It wasn't the feared Amoebaiasis that we were told about so often before landing in Afghanistan. 
The nurse couldn't tell me what was wrong.
When I finally got back to the United States I found out that I had Hepatitis.

I had been only one of a few volunteers who had been visiting a friend who had hepatitis.
 He was in "quarantine" at the large and luxurious home of the Peace Corps nurse.
 I guess my visits with him had infected me.

In any case, I was feeling quite lousy as I began my vacation.

The bus ride up the winding, dirt road through the Khyber Pass was very scary. I didn't know if the bus was traveling on the right side or left side. It didn't seem to matter. The air seemed to become a little warmer as we approached the border with Pakistan. And the ride didn't take that long. I remember I bummed a Bulgarian cigarette from a Pakistani soldier. I thought it was the best tobacco I had ever tasted. 
Or maybe I was so near death on this particular bus ride that I relished the flavor even more.

The arrival in Peshawar was a very long bus stop. But it ended, and we were are on our way again. 
I started feeling more miserable.

I made it to LahorePakistan. I found a pharmacy, which was really just a large wooden stall, and the turbaned "pharmacist" behind the counter had bleeding gums. This didn't fill me with too much confidence, but I still went ahead and asked for some Penicillin. I don't know if what I bought was Penicillin, but I put my trust in this sanguine seller of drugs.

Next, I somehow found a small airport, but since it was Friday, the Moslem sabbath, it was closed, or almost closed, or I had arrived too early, and just a few airline employees were there, eating their breakfast, and so I'd have to wait to buy my ticket to Sri Lanka.
 Which never happened.

My fever had already started, and I was getting much sicker. I decided to take a train. It was my biggest mistake.

At the train station in Lahore, I was getting my passport stamped. When I finished at the table that was checking passports, I turned to walk away, but fell over someone's metal luggage.
 I knew right away that I had injured my knee.
 It began throbbing, and another woe was added to my nausea and fever.

As I was hobbling to board the train, I met a couple from Australia. I told them what had just happened. The husband quickly snapped open a case that contained a trumpet, and he pulled out what he said were painkillers.
 Now I was combining painkillers with whatever the pharmacist had sold me.
 I became even sicker and more feverish on the train that night.

 I was out of Afghanistan, but would soon be lost in India.


1 comment:

DiAnne said...

Can't wait for the next installment. Glad you are writing this down.