Country #69

Country #69 - Afghanistan

The Stressful Country

I was able to sleep in a bit this morning but it definitely was not a very restful sleep. The most stressful country of my trip so far was today, and I was worried about making the flights and finding my witnesses with enough time to spare. I headed to the airport four hours early because the New Delhi, India airport is infamous for taking a while to get through. Also, you have to have proof of your flight to even be allowed inside of the terminal.

When standing in line for my ticket I could tell I was getting a few funny looks - I was pretty self-aware, too, that I didn’t fit the bill of a normal passenger to Afghanistan. I was given my ticket, though, and made my way to immigration and security which were fine but a bit time-consuming. I then had Dominos for lunch because I wouldn’t be eating again for a while and wanted to have a large but relatively inexpensive meal. Also, there were very few options in the New Delhi airport when it came to food.

At my gate, I was again aware of how out of place that I was. Thanks to the guys who looked like backpackers for sticking out more than me, though. My time in the Afghanistan airport was fine but I don’t think it is currently an ideal backpacking destination. Anyways, the flight was a little delayed which stressed me out as I was already going to have a tight window to transit through the country. Eventually we boarded, though, and I luckily had a seat close to the exit so I could be off the plane quickly when we landed. Upon descent into the country, I was amazed by how beautiful the country was as there were tons of snow covered mountains everywhere.

It was a two and a half hour flight and upon landing immigration was a breeze. I had no idea what to expect but I guess they likely do get quite a few Americans through the airport. So while it was new to me and I definitely stuck out on my flight, I’m sure the airport does actually see quite a few people like me (though if I had to guess, probably not too many solo women).

I exited the airport briefly and then made my way back to departures. The security screening for women upon entering the airport consisted of a pat down but I actually really enjoyed talking to the two women in the area. They were really intrigued when they found out I was American and complemented my skin and clothing profusely. They were so kind and it was a great first interaction in the country! I was also impressed with their English as well, as I had no idea what to expect when it came to English proficiency in Afghanistan.

I then checked into my flight at what I assume was an English speaking check-in counter as they both spoke perfect English - which was great because they agreed to be my witnesses! I was making good time and only had security and immigration left. Immigration was fine, I was just asked when and where I entered the country (a bit awkward to say that same day but it was not an issue) and other than that I was free to go. Security was actually a bit funny as they had to scan my bag through at least three times due to the many electronics that I carry. The guy helping me spoke English and thought it was entertaining that electronics kept coming out of my bag (cameras, computer, lots of chargers, etc.). Once again he was very nice and after a final scan, I was able to go to the boarding area.

I had my picture taken in the airport and then sat in the open boarding area until my flight. I noticed at least three other Americans waiting for the flight to Dubai who looked like they were definitely involved with the military in some way. My flight actually ended up being delayed by thirty minutes so I ended up making it through with time to spare! I was relieved to board the flight even though I felt fine throughout my few hours in Afghanistan. I actually did not see any evidence of the military until the plane was taxiing to depart when I saw tons of helicopters sitting on the runway and a giant American flag in a hanger off in the distance. I’m definitely glad to have Afghanistan off of my list as it was one that I was a bit worried about, but I know I have a few more countries that will be even more tumultuous to come in the future. For now, though, it’s on to Dubai, UAE for the night!

It was a three-hour flight and when I landed I was met by the driver for Dunes Hotel Apartments. I rode in a really nice SUV to the hotel where the nicest greeting was waiting for me! David, who had arranged my stay, along with a few other employees met me in the lobby with a bouquet of flowers! It was so sweet! After a long and stressful day, this made my day for sure. After taking a few pictures I was shown to my room which was a fantastic one bedroom suite.

There was a full kitchen, living room, two bathrooms, and a giant bed. I was shown around the room before wishing everyone goodbye - I cannot thank David and everyone at Dunes Hotel Apartments enough for an amazingly warm welcome and really great stay! I loved the room and slept so well. It was a great few hours back in the UAE though I wish I could have stayed longer!

69 countries down, 127 to go.

To learn more about Dunes Hotel Apartments click here.