Our original plan had us staying out of Kabul, but we took a detour there due to the Taliban's infiltration of the formerly calm north. After five days of trying to line up a driver, we realized no one would take us trough the Hindu Kush to Herat. We briefly considered buying dirt bikes and doing it ourselves, but didn't want our obits written just yet.
So we flew to Herat.
When we travel outside of the city, we go local: shalwar kamiz, scarves and our beards on display. On a ride back from the Turkmenistan border searching for the gas pipeline, police pulled us over and hopped out of their truck brandishing AKs. They demanded to know if we spoke Pashto and what we were doing there. They were confused when they found out we were American journalists--they had seen us driving and thought we were Taliban. Our disguises were working too well.
When we got back in town we got trimmed up at a barber near our hotel, putting my beard back to its normal size. It was relaxing to sit in a chair and get a haircut after the stresses of travel. Then a barber suddenly dropped to the floor in convulsions, blood streaming from his mouth. Everyone jumped up in a panic. I thought someone shot him, but it turned out it was just an epileptic seizure.
Things here are very boring. Until they are not.