Trigger Warning: This post mentions elements of death.
I was rifling through an old shoebox of photographs this week, like swiping through your phone pics but manual (HA!), and I found this beauty.
It’s a picture taken in the Tora Bora region of North Eastern Afghanistan while on patrol. I remembered thinking, the stark differences between this place and the Kandahar region were overwhelming. Until landing on this mountain, I figured that all of Afghanistan was a mars-like Hellscape. Land ravaged by heat and war. Smells of shit and decay. 60+ degrees Celsius with no reprieve from choking dust. Stereotypical desert.
In complete contrast, the smells of vegetation in Tora Bora were intoxicating. There were little rain showers every morning, that brought the scents of olive and conifers to life. Birds chirping from time to time, and the ever present mountains. Majestic and looming. The foothills of the Himalayas, as they were referred to in our pre op intelligence brief. My first impressions of this place were both peaceful and serene. It was beautiful.
The terrain however, was steep and unforgiving. I remember the first patrol down into the valley floor, the beauty distracting from the sheer weight we carried in water, armour and ammunition. We had been told that the Americans had “softened” the area months earlier, conducting high level bomb runs in the valley to disrupt the supply network coming in from Pakistan. The people who were caught between the walls of the canyon and the heavy munitions were shattered like glass. Fragments. The locals that lived nearby had taken away the parts that were big enough to carry and buried them in the poppy fields. The rest were left like leaves scattered on wet cement.
It’s at about this point that the picture was snapped. Much needed light in a dark moment. The most gentle arch of lazy ribbon, peaceful and perfect. Framing in a broken moment of disorder and chaos. Looking back, it’s easy to remember the disorder and chaos. The trick for me, for everyone really, is being able to focus on the rainbow.
Seth: Wandering Jester and devoted friend. Hunting images like game on a landscape. Sharing meals, story and adventure. Weaver of words and kicker of stones.