We are home again and trying to help our confused bodies figure out whether it is day or night. This made for fitful sleep, waking up every two hours.

We came home to the noxious fumes that are emitted by our current political climate – expected but still repulsive in this election year. There are the irritating statements of the republican candidates to each other and to Obama (the prize goes to the one who compared Obama to the disgraced captain of the Italian cruise ship). Our local daily, which Axel calls The Gloucester Daily Fish Wrapper, opened with the headline “American Dream in Peril: Fast Action Needed.” I suppose all this is still better than Afghanistan but it is only a matter of degrees.

I finished my long overdue reading of Ann Jones’ Winter in Kabul.’ Her experiences in those early post-Taliban years (which now is referred to by some as the good times) match ours, especially the section about education. It is a sad indictment of the judgment of all the experts who have converged onto Afghanistan at such a high cost that, at least in the education sector, things are not a whole lot better than 9 years ago. At least in the health sector there is a little bit more to show for all the effort.

I am now redirecting my gaze to the south, more specifically South Africa, Namibia and Lesotho, where the next assignment will take me 10 days from now.

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January 2012
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