I arrived in Afghanistan today after traveling from New York to Geneva for a day and a half of meetings at ICRC headquarters, then from Geneva to Istanbul to Kabul. I traveled from Geneva with two new acquaintances who are on their first ICRC missions to Afghanistan – Charles, a prosthetist from Kenya and Philip, an IT systems engineer from Switzerland.

When we got to Kabul, both wheelchairs were waiting for me at the baggage claim (no panic trying to track them down for the first time yet), and with only minor damage to one of them, so… victory? When they didn’t show up at the airport in Istanbul as I’d requested and no one there could definitively tell me where they were, I was worried they’d be left sitting on a runway somewhere, so one slightly dinged up chair – which the Afghan technicians will be able to fix without breaking a sweat – is no big deal as long as they both made it to the country in one piece.

It’s pouring down rain in Kabul today – the first rain I’ve seen in any of my trips to Afghanistan – so it’s a bit reminiscent of a spring day back home in the Northwest, just with a LOT more mud. It’s supposed to keep raining through Saturday, so, while it will be great for the local water supply and agriculture, it could get pretty messy in a city where the vast majority of the streets are unpaved. People here are generally happy to see the rain, though. I arrived at the ICRC delegation to fill out my arrival paperwork and was greeted by a rousing game of volleyball being played by the Afghan ICRC staff on their lunch break. Outdoors. In the rain. Nobody cared at all.  

After the administrative processes were done, I was greeted by my friend and colleague, Alberto Cairo, who is graciously hosting me at his home again during my time in Kabul. It’s great to be reunited with Alberto and his family of two cats, two small tortoises and his wonderful 80 72 year-old chef, Fatah-jan, again.

It’s strange how familiar everything here feels now. As I was driving through Kabul from the airport, I thought back to my first trip down the exact same streets in 2009 and how I was frantically trying to take pictures of everything to capture the crazy, manic energy of this very foreign city. This time I just smiled at how normal it all felt.

I’m in Kabul for the next couple days before flying up to Mazar-e-Sharif on Sunday to conduct my first two basketball camps over the next two weeks, one of which will be with my old friends from Maimana. Stay tuned!