A first impression that I have of Afghanistan is that it is very tan – meaning that the landscape is a dusty brown. Granted our daughter said that soon some green will appear as the trees start to bud out. We took a hike in a mountainous region yesterday – that is to say anywhere since it’s all mountainous – and had the pleasure of stopping to visit the relatives of our guide who offered us tea and a snack. The photo at right shows the platter of nuts and dried berries they provided (dried mulberries, walnuts, chick peas, raisins, and almonds). The generous hospitality of people who live in such a rugged climate continues to amaze me.

We finished our trek at a simple lodge where we stayed overnight. By “lodge” I mean a place that caters to ex-pat hikers and consisted of two large rooms with mattresses, toilets, a shower, and a porch. This other photo shows the lodge dinner of chicken, rice, bread, and salad. Our best estimate is that it probably cost about $4/person.

The next day’s hike was along the old city wall. This involved scrambling up the side of the mountain, picking our way around rocks and family homes built into the side of the mountain. As we climbed, more than one person we met asked if we wanted to come to their home for tea. I wasn’t sure if this was a serious invitation but Heidi said that if we said, “Yes,” they would indeed serve us tea. Their hospitality put me to shame. They did not seem to be afraid of us foreigners but indeed many greeted us with smiles and “Hello, Where are you from?” I hadn’t expected to have such up close and personal contact with people on the street, er “hillside.” It’s been rigorous, but fascinating.