Free World - September 14, 2021

Photos by Michael Yamashita @yamashitaphoto / Despite the barrage of images of g…


Photos by Michael Yamashita @yamashitaphoto / Despite the barrage of images of gun-toting Taliban fighters in Kabul and desperate crowds frantically clamoring for a way out since its government fell last month, there exists another country far removed from the chaos of the capital. I traveled to Afghanistan on assignment in 2000 to follow the route of Marco Polo, who traveled through the country’s northern provinces in the 13th century on his way to China. Polo wrote, “You find an extensive plain, with great abundance of grass and trees, and copious springs of pure water running down the rocks and ravines … [its] people worship Mohommet [Muhammad] and … have a peculiar language. They are gallant soldiers.” With people and places little changed from those he described, these sharp contrasts make Afghanistan a land of striking physical and cultural beauty, despite its precarious future.



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