I just found out my flight to Mazar-e-Sharif is canceled due to flooding on the Mazar runway (despite the rain having stopped over 24 hours ago). Apparently the drainage system at the Mazar airport is such that all water runoff pools on the runway itself. Since Mazar is in a desert where rain is fairly rare and its airport features one “gate” where passengers wait outside in a gravel lot ringed by coiled razor wire, I probably shouldn’t be too surprised by this minor engineering oversight.

Ah well, I came into this trip knowing that, no matter how much advanced planning I did, things would rarely happen quite the way I expected. I kind of hoped I’d make it through at least the first day of the first basketball camp without some unforeseen circumstance getting in the way, but I suppose it’s better to get the unpredictability established right off the bat. Now I’ll be starting with the Mazar women’s team tomorrow afternoon, which will be a fun way to kick things off, in any case.

Since I have some additional downtime with nothing interesting to report on the basketball side yet, I’ll post some pictures I took yesterday driving through Kabul after the three day rain storm had just finished.

1. It’s a bit hard to tell from the picture, but the mountains around Kabul are tinged green with low grass right now – the first time I’ve seen them any color other than dirt brown – and, with their rocky outcroppings, they look like they’re straight out of the Scottish Highlands.

2. In my past two visits, the Kabul River has been a 15-foot deep dry bed of dirt and garbage – for anyone I went to college with, it makes the Millrace look like an alpine stream – but after the storm it was a rushing torrent of chocolate milk-colored (but probably not flavored) water that came within a couple feet of flooding over the bridges that cross it.

3. The new basketball court at the Kabul ICRC Orthopaedic Centre is under construction and is looking like a massive improvement over the previous court. It should be completed within the next three weeks, just in time to start the Kabul basketball camps, and will definitely be the nicest court in the country.

4. Alberto recently adopted a stray kitten, missing one hind leg, who hobbled into his office at the Orthopaedic Centre and demanded attention. Her name is Rita 5 and she’s a hilarious ball of three-legged energy. I’m going to push for one of the ortho technicians to build her a prosthetic cat leg so she fits in with the rest of the patient population at the Centre.

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