For such a rainy, dark day, the Qalat bazaar was surprisingly crowded. Then again, I thought to myself, what else would these people be doing? It's not like they can go home and relax on a comfortable couch while watching TV or wasting time on the internet. The bazaar is their livelihood, and their lives, and our presence for a few short hours is basically the most interesting thing they will see all day. In a way, we are their entertainment, which is probably why it's fun for them to throw rocks or shoot at people sometimes. It's not necessarily in anger, but more like extreme sport. Especially because we shoot back.
For months we kept hearing about The Rainy Season that was always "just a few weeks away." That was November. Now, we've seen rain for a few days in a row and it's like OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS FALLING FROM THE SKY? IS GOD CRYING!?!
Well, that's not entirely true - we did attempt to cover the entire base in gravel, which means taking big rocks and smashing them into smaller rocks and spreading them over the ground. This process - getting rocks and making them tiny - cost something like $1.4 million. So yeah, that's awesome. And of course there are still vast areas without gravel, so it's just one big mud pool anyway.
But I don't mind the rain, I really don't. The farmers, which is what most Afghans are (except for the warlords, drug dealers, weapons traffickers, bombmakers, Taliban tax collectors, or, um, various other things), need the rain to have a chance at a legitimate harvest in the spring. Without it, they will be unable to raise any crops, and have a much higher chance of turning to the insurgency. So if it means tracking a little mud on my boots as I walk around, so what? At the end of the day, I can take a shower. And as far as I'm concerned, that's a mark of any great civilization - the ability to wash away the day's dirt.