I hate turbulence! Matthew and I left
Before we reach Jalalabad, we watch the blackest clouds creep in around us and the turbulence starts...last time this happened I described it as like being a butterfly in a washing machine and I stand by my description......really unpleasant!!
Jalalabad is just a handful of miles from Torkham, the gateway to the tribal areas of
We immediately notice a change in atmosphere as we walk out into this Eastern
It is like being in a different country compared to the North. The landscape is flat and fertile. The homes are large compounds with massively high adobe walls and look very sinister and unwelcoming from without....but judging by the tree tops protruding over the walls, they are havens within. We head off road and soon arrive at Roghano. Twinned to Marshgate and Brighton and
The new classrooms look amazing and have been painted with murals of
The wicket looks great and we open with a demonstration by Matthew and Raees......and there follows a wonderful morning of cricket with several balls being hit right over the boundary wall and into the dust beyond. Lovely to hear Matthew explaining the meaning behind The Spirit of Cricket and discussing sportsmanship with these boys.....most of whom grew up in refugee camps in Pakistan, having fled the years of fighting...and it was here that they learned to play cricket.
I visit the girls classrooms and distribute the letters and gifts from Brighton and
The head teacher asks us to his village for lunch. Feeling incredibly tired as this trip has been so full on! So was an utter delight to drive through the fields into a village by a stream with beautiful trees and to see before us a leafy square, shaded by mulberry trees, spilling their fruit on the cool ground. Laid out in a square were string beds covered with red tapestry cushions and in the centre, huge ochre Afghan carpets. Such a peaceful and timeless scene and so welcoming in the heat of the afternoon.
Lunch soon arrived and was laid right down the centre of the rug and we all sat together, with children milling around us and little faces peering through the gateway, discussing families, age, travels and life.....our hosts, the two brothers in their turbans and grey beards, with huge smiles and wicked eyes, described their 27 children to us ....one of whom is doing a masters in Thailand.....all marvellous and extraordinary and once again a true example of Afghan hospitality. Delicious breads and okra and beans, cucumber and tomatoes and coriander fresh from the fields
We are sad to leave but security means we should stay nowhere for too long. It had seemed so calm and hospitable, sharing food outside with those wonderful characters......and then as we drove back through the strange adobe walls and closed doors of the villages, we saw a huge cloud of dust ahead and a black hawk US helicopter rising out of the dust just metres ahead of us. It circled above our cars, so low, so near and for one moment I wondered if they were going to fire, but they moved on and did a practice landing just beside us engulfing the area in a sweep of dust. So menacing.
As I write..electricity has gone out and I am plunged into darkness in this rather bleak and lonely guest house. Cricket camp tomorrow.....wonder how on earth it will all work out ...so many kids and so much organizing....and so much that could go wrong! As Raees mentioned over supper...”oh yes....people have heard Afghan team is coming ....so may be thousands will turn up to watch...but don’t worry, everything is under control!”