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Cuba: Machismo and Feminism Together at Last?

When I walked out of the airport terminal, the sweet scent of a recent rain shower was in the air, a rainbow stretched across the sky, and I was in Cuba. On the twenty minute taxi ride into the center of Havana, American cars from the fifties chugged along the road: canary yellow Chevys, cherry red Fords, lavender Plymouths, house-painted shades General Motors never dreamed of. Dotting the highway were billboards: “Support the Revolution,” “Believe in Fidel,” “The People Will Triumph.” “Think Soberly and Deeply.” For about twenty years, I had wanted to visit Cuba. Ever since I heard about “The Family Law,” I was curious to see first hand a society developed by a macho-looking, bearded Latino who calls himself a feminist and pushed such a law through early in the Revolution. The Family Law makes it illegal for a husband, whose wife works outside the home, not to participate in an equal share of the housework. In fact, a wife can perform a citizen’s arrest on such a loafer. “Manuel, you did not take out the garbage; you are under arrest!” I wanted to experience first hand what happens when Latino machismo and socialist feminism cohabitate. My excitement was sprinkled with some apprehension which even the mojito--that combination of Cuban rum, lime, mint, sugar, and ice, made famous by Hemingway--I had sipped on the flight over hadn’t calmed. I knew the CIA didn’t want me to be there and I wasn’t sure how the Cubans would treat me. I caressed the money belt that was strapped under my blouse. In the States, a friend of a friend who had been to Cuba told me that crime was rampant there. Also, since U.S. banks don’t trade with Cuba, my credit cards and American checkbook would be worthless. So the Yankee dollar is the currency of choice. Approaching immigration control, I thought about the warnings American friends had given me about the trouble I’d be in if I let Cuban authorities stamp my passport. I heard stories about it being necessary to slip dollars into your passport as a bribe, about being taken into small rooms and interrogated, about communist rigidity and dangers. Ready for a full dose of vitriol, I took a deep breath and handed over my passport. The agent grinned at me and said “Welcome to Cuba,” and before I could sputter something about “No stamp, please,” he imprinted only the loose slip of paper that was the visa form I’d received on the short flight over from Cancun. During almost one month in Cuba, I traveled by bus over much of the central and western part of the country, visiting schools and clinics, farms and villages, work projects; talking with people on various levels, trying to get a more balanced picture of this small country that continues to function in spite of the billions the United States government spends every year to annihilate its government and social system. Especially I wanted to see how women were living and working in this unique society. Was it as terrible or as ideal as we heard? My first morning I arranged to visit a community on the outskirts of Havana, la Guinera, which some years before had been one of the worst slums in the country, festering with drugs, prostitution, hunger, and crime. Leaving the center of Havana behind, we passed through narrow streets where tiny houses and shacks leaned upon one another.. A member of the Women’s Federation, who accompanied us, said that about 24,000 people--6, 000 of them children--live in the eight square kilometer area we were about to visit. We climbed off the bus and entered the day care center where four women, in their twenties and thirties, greeted us. “This is a woman-run project,” Fifi, the director, said. “It all started with a communally-run day care center so that women could hold jobs. Their idea grew and soon an experimental project developed, supported by the government. “Materials and training are supplied to people, teaching them to rebuild their houses, schools, stores, and clinics. In turn, they teach and help others to do the same. The crime rate has been cut to a negligible level. Former convicts lead productive lives. We all help each other out.” I learned that professionals can receive leaves from their regular jobs to add their skills to projects like la Guinera, which exist all around the country. Later I wandered around on the streets. Several macho-looking guys were helping some children paint a fence. On another corner, we passed a makeshift meat stand. Several young black men waved at me from behind the counter. Instead of the stereotyped reaction I might have expected based on the men’s rough appearance--flirtation or hostility or worse--their friendly faces were open, expressing optimism and pride. One of the women told me, “They’re very active in this community. They used to be in prison. They were tough guys we call guapos,”. “Now they are rehabilitated and they work along with children, women, and the elderly, painting, building things, and supervising open markets.” As we walked up and down the streets, I noticed a certain type two-story building that appeared every ten blocks or so. “That’s the community doctor’s house. Each section of the community has its own doctor.” I mentioned how clean the streets seemed. “We have a “garbage patrol,” organized through the environmental program in the schools. If children see anyone littering or throwing garbage on the street, they take it to that person’s front door and hand it to them.” Back at the community center, one of Fifi’s colleagues explained that this project has many levels: “For example, in the workers’ dining room, we have a ‘school table,’ where we teach people table manners and conversational skills. Just changing the environment, the buildings, does nothing. You have to change people’s behavior, attitude, and manners. Everyone is encouraged to get as much education as possible. Children are urged to stay in school. There are special schools for, for example, hearing problems or behavior problems. Adults go to evening school. Our community has its Declaration del Arbol; it’s like a tree with many limbs.” She added, “Because the leaders are women, men don’t feel so threatened.” As we said our good-byes, Fifi added with a smile: “You know guapo means bully and tough guy but it also can mean beautiful and handsome. Here in Cuba, some men are guapos, but women can be guapas. And in our community, our guapos become beautiful!” On my way out, I notice on the wall that la Guinera has won an award from the United Nations in the category of a community project that especially helps women and children. One day on the way to Trinidad in south central Cuba, about five hours from Havana, I visited an organic farm. Alice, the director, an agronomist and trade union leader in her thirties, greeted us. “This project is called las Marianas after Castro’s women’s brigade. It is organized through the Federation of Women and run by an all female staff. The goal is to train women to move from low level jobs, like house cleaning, or even prostitution, to better jobs and improve their lives.” There is much experimentation with organic insecticides, like extract of tobacco, which they dab on the plants, and hydroponic methods. Alice grabbed a handful of soil, which she caressed and sniffed. “It’s compost made from leftovers of sugar mills.” Her dark eyes flashed with enthusiasm as she looked out from under the brim of her straw hat. “We sell to the city market directly, eggplant, guavas, tomatoes, garlic. The women here are in their thirties, mostly married, average three children.” A loud speaker played Cuban jazz in the background. “The women find this work more rewarding than cleaning houses and worse because they see that people are waiting for the food they raise. We see the trucks go out full and come back empty. There is good childcare here. We work the land ten hours a day, seven days a week. Each woman has two days off. We must work that much because people eat every day.” As she pushed back a wayward strand of hair, her pink pearl nail polish and hand crafted silver and bead hoop earrings reminded me that Cuban women haven’t sacrificed their legendary sexiness and beauty while developing economic and professional equality with their men. “We have a beauty parlor here, too,” she assured me. Of course, minds and laws don’t always change at the same pace. A divorced female attorney, head of the local branch of the Women’s Federation, reminded me of this. I met her one evening in a small town about one hour from Havana where I attended a meeting of the Committee for a Democratic Revolution, the local representatives of the government. The Cuban government has a complex three-tiered system: municipal, provincial, and national. People are chosen to be representatives based on the quality of their proposals not determined by party or amount of money they have. “It is not true that the laws are made by Castro,” social science faculty members at the University of Havana had told me the day before. “He is a deputy and president of the Council of State but he makes proposals like anyone else. People must represent the people’s wishes or they are removed.” Everyone votes and most people participate actively in their government. Forty percent of elected officials are female The Women’s Federation is one part of the government. It is as if we had a Department for Women’s Affairs in Washington and on all local levels. “Men are still macho,” the Women’s Federation president said to me.” “I practice law, I’m divorced, now I’m free. Men still want women to serve them. They still want to be kings. They haven’t changed very much. But from the beginning, the Revolutionary Committee was concerned with improvement of women’s status in society.” Her stylish appearance, short blond sophisticated hairstyle, trim black and white suit, gold earrings, and carefully applied eye makeup contrasted with the dreary pale blue chipped paint of the Women’s Federation meeting hall. A young black woman, around twenty years old, joined our conversation. She was studying to be an engineer and was a successful athlete. “I also love to play classical piano,” she told me. “What are your dreams? I asked. “To be the best I can: construction engineer, athletics, music. And to travel like you.” As I moved through the Cuban countryside and met with many people, I was especially impressed by the enthusiasm for learning among the young people and the self-confidence of the young women. One afternoon in a homeopathic clinic, an eleven-year-old girl who was part of a health education class, asked us, “Do you know about safe sex?” She went on to tell us that her uterus would not be ready to have babies until she is over twenty and that she must be careful to wait. There is an active education campaign to combat teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. One day, we visited a college preparatory high school out in the country. As we entered a lab, our host and guide greeted us. Her curly red hair and blue eyes matched her openness and self-confidence. A seventeen year old pre-medical student, she showed us around the lab where she and a group of students were conducting research on homeopathic remedies for skin infections, hypertension, anemia, and diarrhea. The students will be pharmacists and doctors. Even though Cuba has only 2% of Latin America’s population, it trains more than 12% of Latin American physicians. During my time in Cuba, I visited a number of medical clinics. Medical care is free and available to everyone, just as everyone can have as much free education as they can benefit from. There is reciprocation required by the government. For example, medical students may not be able to choose their own specialty and they have to give some years of service where the government decides they are needed. However, evenly dispersed throughout every area are medical personnel and facilities. Everywhere I went, doctors and staff, were eager to explain their work to me. “There is nothing I would rather be doing with my life,” a woman physician told me, who had, along with her clinic, received a United Nations’ award for exemplary medical service. Around her, the paint was peeling and equipment old, yet the love and dedication on the faces of the staff and the confidence shown by the patients was impressive. “Our major problems are related to respiratory illnesses and tobacco and alcohol addictions. Rape and child abuse are not at all issues,” she answered in response to my inquiries. Unlike what we in the U.S. might expect, I traveled freely on my own throughout Cuba. I found people open, even eager, to speak with me when they learned I was an American. Never once did I experience any hostility or apprehension. Up on the University of Havana campus, I got in a discussion with some students who were sitting out on the lawn. “Cubans are sophisticated enough to differentiate between the American people and their government.” They continued, “Americans think we are imprisoned but we feel that Americans are imprisoned by their ignorance. We say that the U. S. has so much opportunity but Americans don’t have the tools to take advantage of it. Cubans have the tools but not the opportunities. Cuba is not one man. You know if there were an election tomorrow, Fidel would win. But the U.S. government wouldn’t believe the results anyway.” We all exchanged email addresses. The students I met seemed better read and more aware of world issues than most of my students back home at the college where I teach. Some women students I spoke with studied in the Center for Gender Studies and told me it was well supported and popular. Over coffee on day, a Cuban-American recording studio owner said to me, “I’ve had many Cuban musical groups come to the U.S. Out of one hundred maybe two people defected.” “But, you know,” he added, “There’s a certain greed in human beings. I don’t think socialism can work alongside capitalism. People want what others have.” “Castro had a nice idea, to create an egalitarian society where everyone had their needs met. I’m not sure he’ll be able to carry it off. Probably he shouldn’t have nationalized private individual’s property. He pissed too many people off. A socialist country has to be surrounded by other socialist countries. And they don’t exist anymore. Maybe China but that’s a very different situation. Cuba is not really communist. Castro wasn’t interested in communism or the Soviets. He just wanted to make a social revolution work. The U.S. policy drove him toward the Soviet.” He added, “Cuba is a great place to raise children: the people have good ethics; they are never vulgar; they have real family values.” But these values are being threatened. One day I was driving with an American friend who has lived in Cuba for many years along the Malecon, Havana’s broad ocean-front boulevard. Huge waves crashed over the sea wall. Our cab driver dodged waves breaking across the road and maneuvered his 1957 orchid-colored Chevy around the seawater spouting from the manholes. Outside the high-rise tourist hotels, instead of armed guards, young girls in spandex and sequins stood waiting, I realized, not for a bus. With foreign tourism now replacing sugar as the main crop, prostitution is returning after a forty-year hiatus. Tourist dollars pay for education, health care, sports, and social security. They also bring sex tourists whose dollars offer young girls a more glittery life—at least for one night—than this social experiment of a society provides them. One day I was visiting the San Pascual, a ship that Hemingway once stayed on. My guide, Ana, a twenty-six year old language student, asked me if it was true what they heard about crime, violence, and drugs among American youth and on our streets. “That’s sad to hear,” when I explained about the widespread availability of guns and some situations in our cities. “We say here,” she explained, “that there are many kinds of freedoms. Maybe we in Cuba can’t buy new cars or travel as freely as you do but we have the rights to food, safe streets, housing, clothing, education, and health care.” On my last night in Havana, after a dinner alone in a paradores, a restaurant in a private home, I was wandering around on dark back streets trying to find a taxi. Suddenly a man ran up toward me from behind. Having been mugged twice in the States, I am touchy about such an event. He ran right up to me and chattered away in speedy Cuban Spanish. I said loudly “NO,” having no idea what he was saying to me. He switched to English: “Eeets allright,” he smiled at me, “Women are safe in Cooba!” He apparently was asking if I needed assistance. An American friend, a woman who has lived and worked in Havana as a freelance journalist for 15 years, drove me to the airport. Halfway there, a siren and blinking lights startled us and a uniformed policeman motioned us to the side of the road. Images of life imprisonment and torture flickered through my mind, which wasn’t all that clear after the mojitos and salsa dancing of the previous night in the Old City. The cop walked up to the driver’s side and tipped his cap. He spoke to my friend for a minute or so, then smiled at us and left. “What was that about?” I asked. “He noticed my license plate is hanging loose and he didn’t want me to lose it. But mostly he wanted to wish us a Happy International Women’s Day. All police officers are instructed to pass this greeting on to every woman they meet today. Some police state, eh?” Flying through the clouds, back to the powerful neighbor to the north, I recalled an afternoon I’d spent in the small town of Remedios, one of Cuba’s oldest, dating from 1514. Its labyrinthine streets were created to deter pirates’ attacks. Trying to find my way back to the main plaza and my bus, I asked an elderly woman for directions. Ana, a widow, invited me into her home. Inside her cozy and spotless house, she served me a glass of ice water, the best refreshment she could provide. Since my Spanish is miniscule, we each sat in a rocking chair and rocked together for a while in silence. Finally when it was time to leave, we hugged. “Hermanas,” she said. I repeated, “Hermanas.” “Sisters.” On the plane home, I was reading Christa Garcia’s novel, Dreaming in Cuban, about three generations of Cuban women, a family divided geographically and politically by the Cuban revolution and the United States embargo. How many millions of lives are disrupted by political and economic differences—even on a relatively small bit of land in the middle of the sea. A Cuban-American who had been visiting his mother, leaned over and said to me with tears in his eyes, “Cuba, que es linda, non!” I nodded.

“No Penis Gourds Here” Published in Wandering In Bali Anthology

Diane’s story “No Penis Gourds Here,” was just published in the anthology, Wandering in Bali, (Wanderland Writers). Available at Book Passages. Excerpt: Actually I’d come to Indonesia in search of the penis gourd people on Papua New Guinea and the matrilineal Minangkabau on Western Sumatra. But through various quirks--the Balinese would call karma— I found myself on Bali. My own connections to Indonesia go back more than forty years when I was living in Holland, married to a Dutch medical student who had spent his early years on the then-Dutch colony of Indonesia with his parents and older brother. I heard tales of their beautiful lives there. Beautiful, that is, until WW II broke out and they were interned in Japanese concentration camps--his mother with the two boys, his father in a separate camp. His older brother died in the camp and when the war was over, they all returned to the Netherlands. During my own years living in Holland, my connections to Indonesia included friendships with some Indonesians who left Indonesia after the war, my former mother-in-law’s memories, and dinners of nasi goreng and rijsttafel at local restaurants. One day, I thought, Indonesia would be a place I wanted to explore for myself. Today, the war is mainly a distant memory. Indonesia and its 17,000 island archipelago gained its independence from The Netherlands in 1949. Bali, although one of the smallest islands, is the best known to foreigners and hosts a booming tourist trade. The Balinese have a love-hate view of the bestselling memoir, Eat Pray Love, that has even further inflated this boom.  Australians chug-a-lugging their way through their holidays, Americans seeking bargains to rival Cost Plus and gurus to predict their futures, Bali “cowboys” serving single women on the beaches of Kuta’s resorts are stereotyped images I held of Bali. Since normally in my travels, I seek out the lesser trod paths, Bali was never high on my to-do travel list. So when I ended up here between visits to two other lesser-known islands, I approached my visit with skepticism.... Available at Book Passages.

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Winner of Travelers’ Tales Solas Gold Award for Best Women’s Travel Writing 2010 Methylphenobarbital For Sale, --Diane LeBow

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“That’s the Hindu Kush Mountains, the killer of Hindus.” An Afghan man sitting next to me on the Ariana Afghan Airlines flight from Dubai to Kabul leaned over and explained. Outside the window, the flat desert lands of Iran and southern Afghanistan suddenly gave way to barren blue and gray ridgebacks, like waves of a stormy sea. I thought about the land I was visiting and wondered how stormy the political situation would be during my upcoming visit to this war weary land. As I was leaving for the San Francisco airport twenty-four plus hours ago, a friend called: “Have you been listening to the news. There’s just been another bombing in central Kabul, many people killed and injured, Methylphenobarbital canada, mexico, india, and an assassination attempt on President Karzai. Do you think you should delay your departure?”

Beneath us, small villages of stone and mud dwellings became visible as we angled in toward Kabul Airport, Methylphenobarbital For Sale. Voices and nervous laughter grew louder as excitement among the passengers mounted. Many on the crowded plane were Afghans returning after fifteen, even twenty years absence.

“I left when I was three,” one man said to me.

Another confided: “I’m afraid to get off. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, Everything will be so changed.”

The landing was a new experience for me: past bunkers and a graveyard of smashed up planes and cadavers of military aircraft, evidence of over two decades of war. Kjøpe Methylphenobarbital på nett, köpa Methylphenobarbital online, I remembered I was entering a land of lawlessness, anarchy, warlords, and twenty-three years of conflict—actually a part of the world where civil war and foreign invasions are more the norm than peace.

Then we stepped off the plane into the “Country of Light,” as Afghanistan has been known. A young Afghan-American man who was traveling with us, said to me, “I thought I wouldn’t remember since I moved to the States when I was five but now that I feel the air and sniff familiar smells I know I am home.” The scene inside the terminal was bustling but well organized, herbal Methylphenobarbital. Young men in ragged brown garments, looking like they had stepped out of the Middle Ages, pleaded to help me with my luggage in order to earn 10,000 Afghanis, about twenty-five cents.

Dust and people swirled all around me, Methylphenobarbital For Sale. The people were strikingly handsome—if dusty, like everything else there. Methylphenobarbital dose, Afghan eyes, dark and deep and very calm, really look into you and the look is not pained or demanding or threatening in any way: it is calm and clear. Perhaps the look is a result of millennia of survival and resignation to whatever the fates or world politics send their way.

Even though I travel extensively, I was never in a war zone before. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, There were a few things to get used to. As we left the Kabul Airport, my driver said, "Don't worry that there is no seat belt, doses Methylphenobarbital work," as he saw me searching along the side of the seat. "I drive slowly." With that, he floored it, and we raced up the wrong side of the divided street against the oncoming traffic. There are no traffic rules or stop lights in Afghanistan. Traffic when it moves, like spilled milk, Rx free Methylphenobarbital, goes anywhere there is a space. My driver Nabil's technique suited the general sense of lawlessness in the air, Methylphenobarbital For Sale.

Through the open window of our car, I bought The Autumn 2002 Survival Guide to Kabul from a street child. It opened optimistically: “There’s a lot to see even if most of it is wrecked.” On the way to our guesthouse, all around us large areas of Kabul were bombed out wrecks of former homes, stores, and even palaces. Near the center of the city, burned skeletons of buses lie stacked one on top of another around the devastated former public transportation center. The ubiquitous blue burqaed women and street children begged at the windows of our van and later when I walked through the streets, Methylphenobarbital use. Men with no legs, mine victims, negotiated along on a sort of skateboard amongst the traffic, pleading for “baksheesh,” some money. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, As we drove up to the hotel I was to stay at, I noticed the top floor was missing and I joked to my driver that I hoped my room was on a lower floor.

There’s something about Afghanistan and the Afghan people that draws me back again and again. When I am there, Order Methylphenobarbital online c.o.d, I feel out of time, connected to all of humanity at all times. This land has been touched by so many—from Alexander the Great, the Egyptians, ancient Greeks, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, the Soviets, Taliban, Methylphenobarbital over the counter, to most recently, the USA---- and yet maintains a strong sense of identity.  There is approximately eighty percent illiteracy, few roads, little to no electricity, running water, phone service, Purchase Methylphenobarbital online no prescription, postal or banking system. People live mainly on a subsistence level, Methylphenobarbital For Sale. Yet, to be with an Afghan is to be aware of a keen intelligence, often along with a sharp wit, a sense of irony and enjoyment of life, and a pervading kindness and hospitality.

How can this be when all around are bombed buildings, destroyed roads, adults and children with missing legs, piles of rusting tanks and crashed planes, cheap Methylphenobarbital no rx. I sought to learn more about this strong pulse of life that was throbbing here.

My lifelong work for women’s rights and the horrors of the Taliban especially pulls me to this part of the world. Imagine being confined inside your house with the windows painted black, only being permitted outside when accompanied by a male relative, being beaten for even showing a bit of wrist, and even stoned to death at the whim of a perhaps disgruntled husband who wants to be rid of you?  Imagine not being permitted any education or access to earning a livelihood, receiving medical care, Methylphenobarbital no prescription, or even an occasional visit to the public bath as you have no running water in your simple house. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, I wanted to learn more and see what I could do to help.

PART 1 Beyond the Burning Burqas: My First Visit with Afghan Women


Two years earlier, June 2000, the Taliban were still in power in Afghanistan. Their treatment of women is the ultimate in man’s inhumanity to women. Could any of us do something to help. Living in France at the time, I met a group of exiled Afghan women. Along with some French women, we organized a conference near the Afghan border in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, as it was still impossible to have such a gathering inside Afghanistan, Methylphenobarbital For Sale. There we met with over 300 Afghan women who had escaped across the Afghan-Tajik border and were living at the time in this former Soviet republic.  Our goal was to help them write up “A Declaration of the Essential Rights of Afghan Women, Methylphenobarbital australia, uk, us, usa,” based on United Nations’ documents. Major elements of our work were eventually incorporated into the new Afghan Constitution.

“Please, speak out about these crimes. But tell not just about the suffering, but also about the successes, how we are resisting.” I met Halida, My Methylphenobarbital experience, a math professor from Kabul, who ran secret schools for girls inside Afghanistan all during the Taliban repression. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, She was one of several hundred Afghan women at this conference. These women were the lucky ones, educated and middle class, having the means and know how, to escape from their country as the Taliban took over. The stories of these women professors, doctors, engineers and computer scientists revealed to me what the civil society of Afghanistan has been and can be once again, discount Methylphenobarbital.

Western news coverage of Afghanistan generally presents a picture of illiterate warlords and draped women. However, earlier, into the sixties, Afghanistan was a progressive society. Women’s equal rights were guaranteed by the Afghan Constitution.  In pre-Taliban Afghanistan, women, at least in the urban centers, were educated and active participants in the society, Methylphenobarbital For Sale. They comprised fifty percent of the civil administration, seventy percent of the teachers, Methylphenobarbital for sale, forty percent of the physicians, and had fifteen percent representation in the highest legislative body in Afghanistan—a larger number than the United States.

“Persecution of women is a method to install terrorism in order to paralyze society, to create a submissive society,” Khalida Messaoudi, Deputy from the Algerian government opened the conference with these words.  She is a petite, auburn-haired powerhouse. Facing death threats everyday of her life and surrounded by security guards, she was a central force in uniting the Algerian women and ousting Algeria’s version of the Taliban and in establishing representative democracy in her country, Methylphenobarbital pics. “Imagine,” she said to me later in the lobby, “right wing Christian fanatics, armed with automatic weapons, taking over Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, government. Methylphenobarbital duration, This is the situation in Afghanistan with the Taliban.”

During meals, the stories poured into my ears:

A young woman at our table told me she had three children and that her pilot husband was killed in an airplane crash. “I hated the burqa,” she said. “With the burqa, you always have eye ache and headache. It is especially difficult for women who wear eyeglasses.”

One woman, Masada, is a dentist with a computer engineer husband and two children, Methylphenobarbital without prescription. She is an exceptionally beautiful woman around thirty with symmetrical features, large eyes, and dark brown hair, Methylphenobarbital For Sale. Like many of the Afghan women, Masada eschewed traditional dress; in her case she wore an oversized tee shirt and jeans. She told her tale of escape, which was like many others. “The Taliban were entering our town that day. I couldn’t reach my husband. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, I quickly arranged visas and plane tickets to Iran for my children and myself. After eleven months in Iran, Methylphenobarbital reviews, I was able to take a train with the children to Tajikistan. Finally, from here, through an international company, I got a message to my husband that we were alive.”

Another woman who had escaped from a Taliban controlled area told me: “The Taliban took seven hundred women hostage. More than 2000 people were killed when they took Kabul. They sold and raped many women, using them as sex slaves. Aged and disabled people, they left to suffocate in closed barracks in temperatures over 110 degrees.”

A young male Afghan journalist spoke to me as we were walking outside after one session, Methylphenobarbital For Sale. “The Taliban live in darkness, cheap Methylphenobarbital, they follow ancient beliefs. It is not our culture to treat women this way. Women are human, not animals.”

Habeeba, an engineer, said: “When the Taliban leave, the women will burn their burqas, Methylphenobarbital dangers, the men will shave their beards, and there will be music on every corner.”  The burning has begun but much remains to be done.

On my last afternoon in Tajikistan, a number of women friends from the conference arranged a country outing. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, We drove out in two vans and picnicked by a fast-moving river, surrounded by sunlit mountains which led on toward Afghanistan. A thin business woman in a tailored dress crouched down and drummed a Middle Eastern beat on an overturned rusty metal table. Soon one after another of the women began belly dancing. Small girls joined us. One woman drew me into the circle, the others clapping around us, Methylphenobarbital treatment. Repeatedly, they said something to me that sounded like “Hurhun.” The word sounded uncomfortably close to a term I wouldn’t want to be called and wondered if somehow my behavior was unacceptable, Methylphenobarbital For Sale.

Back at the hotel, when we hugged goodbye, I took a deep breath and asked: “What does “hurhun” mean.

“Sister,” they replied. “Thank you, our sister, Order Methylphenobarbital no prescription, for being here.”

PART 2 Afghanistan: The Friendliest Country


After the fall of the Taliban the following year, I flew to Afghanistan as part of a human rights delegation sponsored by the San Francisco based organization Global Exchange. There were eleven of us, mainly young Afghan-Americans and me. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, Our mission was to assess the state of Afghan culture and the arts and set up projects to help both immediately and in the long-term. In addition, I planned to visit women’s projects and learn about specific ways I might be able to get involved..

The cover on an Afghan tourism brochure from the 1970’s that I found in a Kabul bookstore announced “Afghanistan, The Friendliest Country.” Believe it or not, that’s what I’ve found during my visits there and with the continuing friendships I have with Afghan people, taking Methylphenobarbital.

Driving through Kabul with my young Afghan friends even in the midst of the dusty chaos that is Kabul’s perpetual traffic gridlock, I never saw anyone yelling in anger. People laughed and joked. Kabul is a remarkably tight knit community, Methylphenobarbital For Sale. My driver used the traffic jams to shout messages to other drivers and passengers. “Tell my cousin to ask his friend Hamid about the tire he is fixing for me.” Since there were few functioning telephones in Afghanistan, I realized that the gridlock is a communication opportunity. Even when people run into each other, Methylphenobarbital trusted pharmacy reviews, they don’t seem very upset. On one occasion, one of my drivers knocked a man off his bicycle. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, They both chatted for a few minutes, laughed about it, and drove on.

My friend, Tareq, a university student, said to me, “Why does everyone pick on Afghanistan. We are merchants and businesspeople, Methylphenobarbital natural. If they want something we have, all they have to do is talk with us and, we’ll do business with them. They don’t have to drop bombs on us.”

My new friends even made up jokes about the ubiquitous blue burqas. “Will the woman in the blue burqa please stand up?” they imagined someone announcing to a large crowd, Methylphenobarbital For Sale. Hoots of laughter on their part and mine followed. Wiping her eyes from laughing so hard, Shoukria said, Methylphenobarbital brand name, “To the coat check girl: ‘Mine’s the blue one.’ More gales of laughter.

Not just high spirits but industriousness and ingenuity were apparent everywhere. In areas of Kabul, as well as in surrounding villages, piles of freshly cut poplar logs, a fast growing tree, were being used for rebuilding. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, During visits to Kabul Radio and Television, the staff showed us how they had concealed their precious archives of tapes and film inside panels of the ceilings or plastered up doors, so the Taliban couldn't find them. Now everything was out in the open again and being broadcast. When the Director of the Kabul Museum showed me room after room of statues smashed by the Taliban, where can i cheapest Methylphenobarbital online, he and his staff assured us that, with international help, "We can reconstruct them."

We purchased a few hundred dollars worth of electrical supplies and helped get the lights back on in the Kabul University library reading room where we saw students hunched over books in the darkened rooms. Every department at the University needed international assistance. The music department lack instruments. The Fine Arts department wrote out a prioritized list of supplies they needed, Methylphenobarbital For Sale. Before we left, we dropped off paper, Methylphenobarbital online cod, paints, and clay.

At the National Archives, the director took me into a room where mounds of deliberately ripped canvases lay stacked. However, the establishment reopened and they were hanging a show of recent paintings while we were there. At the University as well as the National Library, we examined cases displaying books that the Taliban shot through or shredded with knives as all images are forbidden under their extreme rule. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, I visited an orphanage that housed more than one thousand children but had no running water or functioning plumbing. Children made a game out of taking turns at a single hand pump in the schoolyard, Methylphenobarbital price, coupon. A fifth grade class of orphaned girls sang for us: "Afghanistan, you are now my mother, and I must take care of you."  Over the next days, we purchased pillows and wool mittens for the children.

Afghanistan is a teacher's paradise. Eager learners, both girls and boys, Buy cheap Methylphenobarbital no rx, pack schools, half of the students sitting on the floors, shared the scarce books and writing on tattered bits of chalk boards. "Please stay here and teach us, Methylphenobarbital For Sale. When are you coming back?" the students of Alfatha Girls School addressed me in excellent English. Their 37-year-old principal, Mahgul Nawabi, ran underground schools for girls during the Taliban years when all girls were forbidden education. In many classrooms during my visit, I saw older women attending classes with much younger pupils, purchase Methylphenobarbital, hoping to catch up on the years the Taliban denied them education.

I also visited a well-run school for the deaf, the first and only one in Afghanistan. The director developed the first system for signing in Farsi. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, “I try to help those who have been forgotten,” he told me. Another unique school is for street children. There are five such centers in Kabul, serving over 38,000 homeless children or children without functioning families. At these centers, Where can i buy Methylphenobarbital online, the children spend a few hours each day, are taught literacy and basic mathematics, have a meal and access to bathing facilities, and, perhaps most important, have friends they can count on.

One day, several of us hiked up on the side of a mountain near the ancient walls of Kabul. Throughout the town, Methylphenobarbital street price, most people headed toward the stadium where the commemoration in honor of Masood, would occur.  A national hero, Masood, the great Afghan freedom fighter, was assassinated on 9/9/01, as part of the 9/11 attack on the USA, This was the infamous stadium where the Taliban performed public executions and stonings every Friday.  Above us security helicopters whirled. Below women washed clothes in the tiny trickle of water which was all that was left of the Kabul River after five years of drought

As we clambered up the steep gravelly hillside, from the flat roof of a mud and stone dwelling, a man on crutches waved at me and, with a smile, beckoned me over, Methylphenobarbital For Sale. Canada, mexico, india, As I approached him, I could see he had those movie star good looks of many Afghan men: gorgeous symmetrical features, muscular build, dark hair and beard, and expressive dark eyes. “Come in, have tea with my family,” he said through the university student who was my translator. I was having trouble staying upright on the steep slope and wondered as we entered his tattered house how my new friend managed on his crutches, Methylphenobarbital used for.

He introduced himself as Ashref. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, “I’ve fought against the Soviets and the Taliban to protect my family and little community here. I’m the mayor,” he told me in a matter of fact way, a broad smile on his face. A mine had blown one of his legs off, he explained, and he showed me various holes in his chest and back from mortar fire. Where can i buy cheapest Methylphenobarbital online, In spite of his personal history, he joked constantly and was one of the most jovial people I’ve ever known. His wife, a beautiful woman with those special golden green eyes seen on some Afghans, interrupted to tell me, "My husband is a very good man.”

I asked him, “Here you are after twenty plus years of war, you’ve lost a leg, your body has been shot at again and again, Methylphenobarbital from canada, yet you are so cheerful. How is that, Methylphenobarbital For Sale.

“Now we have peace,” he said, “and peace is everything.”

PART 3  TWO YEARS LATER


When I entered the unheated old cinema building in central Kabul, where until recently the Taliban had banned all films, the electricity went out for several minutes and I stood in the pitch dark with about one thousand Afghan women. They had traveled from all corners of Afghanistan to be here, Methylphenobarbital recreational, on planes, on donkeys, and on foot.

Two years had past since my last visit to this country. The specific occasion this time was a women’s conference to prepare materials for the new Constitution at their Loya Jirga, or Constitutional Convention. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, For three days we sat in a packed hall for about eight hours each day, witnessing what the American Institute for Democracy, which helped fund the conference, described as “true grass roots democracy at work.”

Like a dam had broken, these women demanded every possible right and a perfect society. “We want freedom to wear what we wish. We want to be free to marry whom we wish or not to marry. No more polygamy, no violence, free education, health care. We want the right to ride bicycles.”

A few days later, some of their proposals were in fact added to the new Constitution, including a twenty-five percent requirement of women in the Parliament. Of course, enforcement is another story, Methylphenobarbital For Sale.

One afternoon, my plan was to find Ashreef, my one legged Mujahadeen friend, again, to see how he and his family were doing, and bring them photos from my last visit as well as gifts. With a few friends, I drove to the place in Kabul where the hills rise up from the bed of the Kabul River and where I recalled meeting Ashreef two years earlier. Street names or numbers don’t exist here. When we showed my photos to some people, they recognized him immediately, as he is well respected in his community. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, "He's at the mosque," and they ran to get him. Within minutes, rushing down the street on crutches toward me, with a new artificial limb, was Ashreef. We were both very moved by our reunion, tears streaming down both our faces. Somehow this illiterate warrior and I have a close bond.

"Diane," he said, "we spoke of you often throughout the year. I looked at the little blue card you left with us, especially when I was sick or felt sad, and the thought of you always raised my spirits and made me feel happy again, Methylphenobarbital For Sale. Last evening I had a dream you were coming back and my wife and I spoke of you." We spent a couple of hours talking over tea, nuts, and raisins in his modest but well kept tiny mud brick house.

He says he is an Islamist: women should have full rights to have careers, to go to the university, but still he believes they should wear the hijab. "We are Moslems, we want to respect our women wearing the cover. It is not the burqa which is the point but the freedom to move about in their lives, to live full lives, that is important. Methylphenobarbital For Sale, However, after conversing for over 1 1/2 hours, Ashreef said to me, "I've been at war for over 15 years, that's all I know. I am thinking that maybe my mind and ideas haven't developed as they should be. Maybe I need to rethink some of these new ideas especially regarding women and expand my mind and thoughts."

Then he turned to the two young Swedish women journalists who were with me, "You are my guests, but Diane is no longer a guest.” My heart stopped for a moment. Had I offended him in some way.

“Diane is now part of our family."

When William Faulkner accepted the Noble Prize for Literature in 1950, he talked about the human ability to endure and prevail: “When the last ding dong of doom has clanged and faded in the last dying evening… there will be one more sound, that of the puny human voice saying ‘I refuse to accept this.” That’s the voice I hear in Afghanistan.

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Later accompanied by pumpkin soup and Maya tamales at Yaxche Restaurant, we watched the traditional Fire Dance performed to beating drums by exuberant dancers, bodies and faces painted and wearing enormous feathered headdresses, canada, mexico, india. Since normally this dance is only performed every 52 years, we were fortunate to witness it, Buy Sonata Without Prescription.

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One day we hiked through the Biosphere of Sian Ka'an, where can i order Sonata without prescription, or "Gift from the Sky," which at 1.3 million acres, Online Sonata without a prescription, is the largest protected area on the Mexican Caribbean. It is the home to 23 known archaeological sites and at least 103 mammal and 336 bird species. Buy Sonata Without Prescription, Their overnight accommodations meet the highest environmental standards. While hiking, our guide pointed out the happy symbiosis of nature as he warned us not to touch the chichen tree which is deadly poisonous, Sonata used for. But, not to worry, Purchase Sonata online no prescription, he said as he introduced us to a neighboring tree, the chaka, which provides an antidote to the poison of its neighbor.

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Wanting an off the beaten track experience, for several nights we rented a condominium at the Place of the Turtles, Sonata alternatives, las Villas Akumal, where we enjoyed swinging in our hammocks overlooking the sea. Order Sonata from mexican pharmacy, Manager David Nelson went out of his way to make our visit perfect. While there, we learned about the turtle conservation project from environmentalists who visited the beach each evening at dusk to check on the turtle nesting and hatching. Seeing Cozumel just off shore, we recalled our excellent dives on the Great Maya Reef, the second largest coral reef in the world, Buy Sonata Without Prescription.

Archaeology, Sonata canada, mexico, india, diving, culture, Order Sonata no prescription, jazz festivals, beachcombing, ecotourism, excellent accommodations and restaurants, purchase Sonata, and knowing that we are nurturing Maya culture and economy-all good reasons John and I decided for planning a return visit to Riviera Maya. Of course, Sonata long term, there's also the magic, such as walking around the ancient city of Tulum at night, the only known Maya site set upon a cliff overlooking the sea, the full moon lighting our way.
If You Go:
Flights to Cancun from most major U.S. airports. Buy Sonata Without Prescription, Information at www.rivieramaya.com
Alltournative. www.alltournative.com. (800) 507-1092
www.xcaret.com
Hotels:
Mandarin Oriental. www.mandarinoriental.com.
Las Villas Akumal. www.lasvillasakumal.com
www.haciendatresrios.com
A couple of my favorite restaurants:
Yaxche Maya Cuisine. www.mayacuisine.com.
El Oasis Mariscos, Playa del Carmen.

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