Chicken Street


Yesterday I finally got to see a place called Chicken Street. I wasn’t sure if I would get to check it out before I left town because of all the drama going on in and around Kabul. We called the UN and made sure it was a safe time to explore and then got a driver to take us downtown.

Chicken street is a famous street dedicated to Afghani craft and antique vendors. I bought a few things, but it’s hard when you only have one suitcase to fill and it’s already full!

   Blue lapis necklace. Made from stones that are only found in Afghanistan.

Doesn’t he make you want to buy flowers!

Carry it everywhere you go! (BOTH HANDS)



After spending way too much money at the market, Russ (the engineer that works with us) and I go to a cool little coffee shop for cappuccino’s. The outside courtyard is decorated with these awesome stenciled paintings. Inside is like an art gallery with really expensive but beautiful artwork, carpets, and jewellery.

This guy even pushes it around for you…

Two can share?

Tea shrine



I need to buy a tea set when I get home so I can stay on top of this coffee-free kick I’m doing. I feel a lot better without it and green tea is a million times healthier. Maybe I will even build a shrine to the tea gods like this one!








Captain Jen Shmenk and I pose with a poppy that she picked for me at the airport in Kunduz. The surrounding fields are full of them. If only boys were so sweet!

Handmade dresses in one of the chicken street shops.



I wonder what Laura would do if I brought her home a goat to hang in her new living room. Best find out shall we?








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A Pakistani Garden

Today was a funny day. We flew to Jalalabad, which is a bit of a sketchy place because the attacks from the Taliban are a lot more frequent there. When we landed, the ramp agent showed me the damage from a rocket that had hit the airport the night before. It blew a hole in one of the containers, but didn’t hit anything solid enough to create an explosion. He explained to me that rockets are frequent, but they never happen during the day (I guess that’s why we have such an early curfew). Apparently rockets can only go a distance of about 500 metres so in order for them to get close enough to hit the airport they must fire them off at night when there isn’t as much surrounding security.

Black Hawk Down?

Next we land in Islamabad, Pakistan. There I meet ramp agent Ali who is so happy to show me his garden behind our parked aircraft. He says the, “weeds,” sometimes grow to be 5ft tall, but sometimes people come and chop them down. The marijuana plants grow like bad crazy here. He tells me that sometimes the leaves disappear because the younger guys make a tea out of them and sleep all weekend!

Islamabad, Pakistan

Islamabad, Pakistan

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Nickie Versus Passengers

Some days are a little more frustrating than others. Although most of my days are pleasant and fun, sometimes people can really make me shake my head. Here are some examples:

1) Me: “Excuse me ladies and gentleman, due to the turbulence on this flight I will not be serving hot drinks such as coffee or tea. Your options are fruit juice, Cola, or water.”

First five passengers: “I WANT COFFEE”

Me: “FFF*&(^$$^$^……… No!!!” (Wording has been slightly exaggerated). “Is your coffee so important that you really want to see me burn myself or other passengers?”

2) I love it when I put signs that say, “Do not use,” on the two front seats that face my jump-seat and then English speaking passengers either sit on top of them or hand the signs back to me.

Me: “WTF, why can’t you read the signs and then pick one of the other 20 unoccupied seats???”

3) How about when I am serving drinks from the front passengers to the back and I get a, “DING,” from the passenger in the back signalling me to bring him a coffee.

Me: “Sit the F down and wait your turn like everyone else. What are you, VIP?”

4) Me: “Sorry ladies and gentleman, but due to current weather reports our likelihood of landing in the city of Faizabad is approximately 60%. You have the option of staying here in Kunduz or you can take your chances on the flight and run the risk of returning with us to Kabul.

Passenger: “But I have an important meeting in Faizabad!”

Me: “Oh, my apologies, I didn’t realize how important your meeting was. I guess we’d better land regardless and risk the lives of 20 other passengers!”

5) I love when Americans hold up their garbage as a signal for me to come and pick it up. Sorry Americans, I love most of you!

6) My favourite passengers are the ones that complain about the bad turbulence and then ask me when it is going to stop as if I am responsible for it.

Me: “Sorry, I haven’t developed the skills to predict the future yet”

7) Or how about the passengers that talk through my entire safety demo, where I instruct people to turn off their cellphones, and then answer a call as we are taking off.

Me: “Shut off the damn phone. You’re not the president.”

8) How about the smokers who try to sneak off the plane while we are waiting for new passengers to arrive? Smoking + fuel + airplane full of passengers = hopefully a lot of jail time for you!

Rant = Over. It wasn’t actually a bad day, I swear! I just think it’s funny how many self righteous people exist out there. Good thing I’m no longer a mouse. I may not have spoken as uninhibited as I would have liked to, (Due to liking my job and wanting to keep it) however, I still let them know what’s what 😉

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The Beard

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Almost Done!

I only have 2.5 weeks left at the Baron. Nothing much has really been happening lately (except for lots of working, but it’s hard to take photos when I’m on the go) so I’m just going to post a few pics that I took over the last few days 🙂





I snuck a quick pic of this army helicopter before getting caught. If they catch you taking pictures they will make you delete them.






Captain Ben finds a hat!










A view of the canyons near Bamiyan.










Ryan concentrates on filling out the giant book.

The End

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Here and There

Here are a few tidbits over the last few days!



I’m not sure why, but for some reason every time I ask someone to take a picture of us it turns out blurry. Here is our last meal with base manager Laurent. You’ll be missed!!!




Afterwards we hit up the lounge for a few see ya later drinks!






First Officer Mulhall gives me a tour of the corrugated temporary runway that was supposed to last for a few months, but has stuck around for the last ten years.






The view from our office!







Captain Ben Hiebert!

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New Year in Afghanistan

The year is 1392. I guess they do things a little differently over here lol

Lunch with the R1 crew

Thursday is a holiday due to the new year celebrations so our crew decides to do a little excursion. The Vice President of Regional 1 has flown in for a visit (and to hand deliver Baby Dash parts) so we go on a tour of downtown Kabul and visit Serena Hotel, which is the fanciest hotel in the city as well as a UN approved outing location. It has very high security and a gourmet buffet with sushi, Vietnamese, smoked salmon, coffee cheesecake and a variety of other delish things.

Afterwards we drive around town and discretely take photos of some of the buildings. It is not wise to draw attention to yourself in Afghanistan so taking good quality photos is difficult. We have to sneak them from the windows of the van as we drive by, careful not to take photos while we are stopped or in congested areas.




This used to be the Kings palace until it was demolished. He then relocated to downtown Kabul.







This is the Blue Mosque.




It’s crazy how the Afghani’s build their houses into the surrounding mountains. I guess that’s how they fit 4-6 million people into one valley (The population is a rough estimate as it is difficult to do a proper census here)

We celebrated their new year in our own way… With box wine!

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Doodles from the garden

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UH OH… Trapped in Bamiyan!

Ryan and I give the baby Dash goodnight hugs!

It was supposed to have been a short day: Kabul -> Bamiyan -> Faizabad -> Kabul, however, our plane decided to have a bit of a rest in Bamiyan, meaning it failed to function properly (The aileron tab decided to stop moving). Another plane was intended to come and rescue me, but a storm decided to hit Kabul just as they were about to depart and they cancelled the flight. To be honest, I wasn’t that upset about it because a WFP truck came and picked us up and took us out for lunch, which meant I got to see the cool little town where they have 175 ft Buddha statues (Or used to have until the Taliban blew them up).

One of the demolished Buddha statues along with a collection of the caves, which are all connected by inner staircases

The Disabled Store

I also got to visit the, “Disabled Store,” which is located at the side of the runway. It’s a little shop full of tourist souvenirs made by disabled people from the community. The funds go back to support the artists, which I thought was a pretty awesome idea, so I bought a sheep wool matt for my front door back at home. I might have to go back to that store before I leave and pick up some jewellery for the lovely ladies back home!

Our driver then takes us downtown Bamiyan to a hole in the wall kebab lounge where our only choices were either sheep or chicken. We ordered a pile of kebabs and they were surprisingly delish going down (a few hours later I wasn’t raving about them so much because I felt like I was dying inside). The driver then told us about his gigantic family of 1 wife, 16 children, and 20 grand children. He joked that he had to keep going because the first six babies were girls and he really needed some boys. Pretty sure this guy was responsible for creating half of the children running around Bamiyan.

Captain Ben!

After lunch we find out that due to the terrible weather, it is too late for our engineer to arrive in order to fix the plane, and we must stay the night. We use masking tape and stickers to seal the doors as a precaution to make sure that noone tampers with the aircraft while we are gone. There are also two guards that are hired to keep watch (There is no airport security here). For a second I panic thinking that one of the guards is pointing a gun directly at me, but upon further observation I realize that he is actually holding a pigeon. He laughs at me and is keen to have his picture taken. We give them a handful of granola bars and some mango juice to ensure that they have a sugar high and don’t fall asleep on duty.

Our hotel was actually quite charming. We didn’t have very high expectations considering the town doesn’t yet have electricity and is essentially made out of dust, but surprisingly enough the hotel has WIFI powered by a generator, as well as a wood stove and tea set in each room. The only thing I wasn’t too happy about was my latrine, which was essentially a hole in the floor. I don’t think a woman was responsible for such an invention as we’re not really equipped for standing and aiming like men do. GAH!!! At least it beat the hotels in Haiti, which provided you with a bucket beside your bed for a bathroom.

The TV in my room was very high tech!

Our very traditional Afghani dinner (mutton)

Sleeping was interesting. When my little wood stove burnt out I had to pile on about 6 massive blankets to keep warm. Then the nightmares started. I dreamt that I was running  in the middle of a war and that people were driving around in trucks throwing grenades. Only some of the grenades actually exploded (I’m guessing this is stemming from the rocket that went off at the airport. Apparently they are attacked by rockets frequently but not many of them detonate). I was wounded in the dream and came across a woman who wanted to help me. She instructed me to follow her into a house where she knows she can find an x-ray machine. The house is mostly demolished and yet we take cover inside even though there are still grenades being launched inside. Then I wake up in a panic and think it’s daylight when in actuality it is 2:00 AM. Back to sleep…

Me at the entrance to the Unicef office in Bamiyan

In the morning I feel pretty gross because none of us were really prepared for an overnight stay. In the future I am never going to leave for a flight without: a sweater, toothbrush, change of clothing, phone charger, snacks, water, and money. We then wait in the cold and rain at the airport anticipating the arrival of the King Air, which is carrying our engineer, Mike. Unfortunately, the weather is yet again making it too difficult to land and there are further delays. I’m a bit worried at this point because I had just received an email stating that there are security warnings at the airport in Kabul (hints of a possible hijacking plan) and that the airport won’t be operational until Saturday. That means that if we cannot make it back to Kabul in the next few hours, we will be staying in Bamiyan for 3 more days. No thanks!



Fortunately for me the King Air arrives a few hours later, and there is one seat left available so that I can fly back with them to Kabul. Mike stays behind with the two pilots and they use duct tape to fix up the plane. I kid, they probably used magic!

I wanted to go on a tour of this “castle” but it isn’t recommended to go without a guide as there are still possible land mines hanging about.

One of the many markets in Bamiyan

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Flying around Afghanistan!

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I finally got to go to work today. Yay! We went from Kabul -> Bamyan -> Mazar -> Kunduz -> and then we tried to make it into Faizabad but the weather was too crazy.

<- Here is a photo of Bamyan. This town is really cool because there are Buddha statues the size of sky scrapers that were carved out of the mountain. Unfortunately the Taliban came and demolished them because the statues didn’t coincide with their own religious beliefs. In this picture you can actually see one of the statues off to the left, although its features are no longer recognizable. There are also little caves and pathways all over the mountain, which provided housing to the artists as they worked their way up. Amazing!

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This little gem is the airport terminal in Bamyan. Fancy eh ->

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<- The police tried to insinuate that they would have to cut off my wrists if I took photos of the famous statues, but they were certainly keen on having their own photo taken!

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