Day 5

We started out by visiting the red cross orthopedic center in the morning. Our tour guide, Najib, had worked here during the war. We met with the head of the orthopedic center, Najmuddin Helal. In addition to providing medical services for disabled people they also provide social programs, educational, vocational and employment. The factory to make the prosthetics was on the same site of the hospital and they only employed disabled people a type of affirmative action which he referred to as ‘positive discrimination.’ Najmuddin Helal himself had lost both legs to a mine in 1988. He told us that 80% of the amputees who come for treatment are victims of land mines.

After meeting victims of mines it seemed fitting to visit the OMAR mining museum. In it they had examples of every different mine they had found in the countryside including the small butterfly mines that are particularly dangerous to children. They had educational materials, posters telling people not to step in unchecked areas as well as classrooms and even an internet cafe inside an old helicopter. OMAR is a de-mining organization and we saw their name on the side of the road elsewhere, indicating that this place was free of mines.

Also that day we met Fauzia Kufi the Parliamentary representative from Badakhshan and the chair of women’s rights committee. When asked how she came to power she explained that she comes from a political family; her father was elected four times and her older sister represents Tahar province. She expressed some uncertainty about Afghanistan’s future and the future of women. She said she hoped that the US would wait to pull out troops until after the elections in 2014.

Later that day we went into Old Town to take some pictures. Everyone we met was excited to show us what they were selling.

On our way back to the car some kids across the street were throwing snowballs. As I was stepping into the car one of them hit me square in the face with a dirty snowball. It didn’t really hurt but I was pretty shaken up. Boys will be boys.

There is a season

The Russian and I did some canning this weekend. Why? We hate shopping for Christmas gifts, we’re poor, because it’s cool, and because this is what our lemon tree looked like AFTER making 30 jars of marmalade.


We started by harvesting a big bag of lemons, about 20 pounds worth


Then we peeled them, and diced the peel


Leaving us with a pile of big, naked lemons


Don’t be fooled by their size though, the lemons from our tree are mostly pith


Then came the hardest step, juliene-ing 40 lemons. This was also the point when we realized we wouldn’t be finishing that night. It was hard work, we were tired, and while reading the recipe we realized it had to sit overnight in order to create pectin.

This is the flesh


this is our compost


and this is what we pulled out in the morning.


We added sugar




And canned


And boiled


And canned some more


Don’t you wish you were our friend?


This year we celebrate the Joy of Cooking, what are you celebrating this winter?