Well, Lal wa Sarjangal has been great and now we are now ready to leave. Except we can’t. In Lal, the airstrip is only long enough for a small Cessna to land, and that small Cessna is now being used for training activities elsewhere in Afghanistan. We only found this out yesterday, and were due to leave tomorrow. Today then was spent exploring other options: a 10 hour drive to Bamiyan (site of the ancient Buddhas before the Taliban decided to remove them), and then fly down; a six hour drive to Chaghcheran and fly; a two day drive all the way back to Kabul, via Bamiyan. These options quickly evaporated too: the flights were all full and the road after Bamiyan was insecure (meaning high risk of becoming a guest of anti-Government forces, ie, kidnapped).
So that means waiting until Saturday, when the little Cessna will be free again. Except that an local man, irate because the project here won’t give him a job, has decided to take his revenge building a house on the runway. He has, apparently, got as far as dumping a load of stones for the foundation. In previous times he was content with protesting his unemployment by standing in the middle of the runway as the plane was landing; now he has upped the stakes. The team leader here was to talk to the Wuluswal – the local Governor about it, and she was confident it would be resolved. Hmm. She had been confident we would be leaving tomorrow too. Lal: you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
Lal’s superlative runway, pre-housing development.