Set off from Dubai on Safi Airways; the International Airline of Afghanistan. Excellent view was afforded from my window seat above the right wing. In fact this seat turned out to be especially advantageous as it seemed the plane banked right periodically since departing Dubai. After the desert and water surrounding Dubai we flew over a mixture of desert and grassland then after a period, mountains. And they went on and on, various shades of brown. Ribbons of Mountains. The view from my seat: mountains, clouds, mountains, clouds and mountains again in a continuous cycle.
In fact the feeling is not so dissimilar from flying into Bermuda (where I was born and raised and where the majority of my family are still based), where there is sea, endless unchanging sea, and then the island becomes clear almost instantly out of nowhere. I was wondering if this would be the case when we approached Kabul. Soon enough we flew over some dense clouds and not long after the captain announces that we are about to start our descent into Kabul and we slowly descended into the thick clouds a few bumps along the way (to put it mildly!) Good thing I have experienced some serious turbulence crossing the Atlantic before.
We are slowly struggling through the soupy grey clouds when the descent speeds up and before we know it we are quickly cutting through the clouds in a what I imagine one could consider a “whiteout”, with sustained turbulence. Ironic considering on departure in Dubai it was announced that conditions were good for the flight?
After we came out of the clouds, the mountains immediately reappeared under the right wing, remarkably close. Then the city sprawling along the valley floor. The experience visually was not so far removed from what I had wondered earlier when the mountains were passing beneath me like waves on an ocean. From above, Kabul was like an archipelago emerging in a sea of mountains. The city it seemed almost a series of spiders webs that interconnect along the valley floor, around smaller hills and mini mountains but as far as the eye can see. Then as the plane got closer to the ground; green! Assorted patches indicating irrigation, cultivation, gardens.
Taxiing along the runway my plane passed US Air force planes, hangars and helicopters; lots of helicopters. Then a banner on the airport terminal greets me with “Welcome to Afghanistan!”.