Week Three: The Beard
The beard is now entering its third glorious week. The itching has stopped, mostly, and I've just learned about the need to trim the lower mustache to avoid an uncomfortable feeling on my lip. All in all, not a bad first effort. I leave for Asia on August 1 and enter Afghanistan August 13.
On the diplomatic front, I believe it's important to have as many options as possible to exit Afghanistan in the event things turn ugly. August is shaping up to be THE major crunch time for the US occupation, the possible turning point militarily, so anything could happen. And when things happen in Afghanistan, events unfold in minutes and hours. Because our route takes us along the northern and western edges of the country, exiting via Kabul and flying out could be difficult—there is a knot of huge mountains between Kabul and where we'll be. So the best exit points are either to double back into Tajikistan, leave Mazar-i-Sharif across the Friendship Bridge at Termiz into Uzbekistan, enter Turkmenistan north or Herat, or out into Iran at Zaranj.
We have the visas now for Afghanistan and Tajikistan. We have applied to Iran, but that takes a month. We're now waiting to hear back from the Uzbeks. We can't start the process re: Turkmenistan until early July because of the vagaries of their timing protocols.
I'm in Portland today and will be hitting REI for some roughing-it-related supplies.