(In preparation, with text in english plus pictures):

 

- Battlefronf of Jalalabad in Soviet Union times (1988)

- On rebel Bougainville Island, with Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) leader Sam Kauona (1990)

- Crossing Darfur in trucks (from Khartoum to Ndjamena)

- Across Sulu archipelago (two weeks on boats and canoes, from Zamboanga to Borneo, via Jolo Island). Year 1982

- The Darien Jungle (overland and in canoes, via San Blas Islands to Turbo in Colombia)

- Bombings in Baghdad during Saddam Hussein times

- RASD (Sahrawi free territory controled by the POLISARIO) from Tindouf (2007)

- Through Elephant Pass to Jaffna outwitting the Indian Peacekeeping Forces (year 1989)

- Republic of Donetsk from Rostov on Don (2017)

- Up the Huallaga River in wild settlements where all the locals were armed with automatic rifles

- Captured by FARC guerrilleros at the sources of the Magdalena River

- On Trans-Saharan trails, from Tamanrasset to Gao in trucks, and further to Timbuktu through the Niger River (1992)

- With the gold seekers in Madre de Dios (1986)

- Penetrating 3 days in the forbidden Vladivostok in the eve of Perestroika

- Crossing from the Kingdom of Mustang to Tibet through the Kore Pass (1989)

- and so on until 20 dangerous places that I experienced and survived

- …

 

 

1 – BATTLEFRONT OF JALALABAD IN SOVIET UNION TIMES (1989)

Being in Peshawar, I tried to enter Jalalabad in order to learn from the human behavior in times of the social cancer of war. However, in spite of wearing a turban, wide afghan trousers, and having not shaved for one month, I was discovered in Torkham, just after passing some kilometers the border into Afghanistan, controlled by the Pakistani.

The Pakistani border officials forced me to back down to Peshawar, escorted by two soldiers, until the Khyber Pass. But I was “un enfant terrible” those days and determined to try a second attempt, this time from the wild Kafiristan.

That long journey until the Pakistani post of Arandu, in the border with Afghanistan, mainly on foot, in winter, sharing for a time in the Bumburet Valley the form of living of the Kafir Kalash (believed to be the descendants of Alexander of Macedonia), visiting the fabled towns of Dir and Chitral, admiring the splendid Tirich Mir peak, crossing on foot the treacherous Lowari Pass of the Hindu Kush, eating only some raisins along the way, “drinking” snow, sleeping in caravanserais crammed with contrabandists and Pathan bandits, and outwitting the Pakistani border posts was, indeed, a very risky one.

Here below are some abbreviated impressions of my second entry in Afghanistan and the week that I spent with the mujahideen, as I wrote in my diary:

First Day, 5th January 1989, Thursday. ARANDU – NARAY.

I left charming Chitral early in the morning and crossed on foot the bridge over the Kunar River and the international Durand Line, thus entering the Kunar province of Afghanistan. The Afghan border was protected by mujahideen carryings Kalashnikov AK 47. I met their “commandant” and offered him my Swiss knife as a present to allow me to enter Afghanistan. Then he explained me before a map:

- “Look! This is the present situation. After eleven years fighting we are about to win the war. Now our battlefront is located at the gates of Jalalabad, where you are heading. All Afghanistan is controlled by the mujahideen except Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif and some small enclaves in the corridor of Waham, in the Pamir. But the communists only dominate the cities! The rest of the country is owned by the mujahideen!”.

I walked until Naray where another mujahidin group invited me dinner rice plus a bread called naan. Suddenly all shot joyfully their Kalashnikov and laughed. I asked the reason and was informed that they had listened in the BBC of London, transmitting in Pashto, that the Russians would leave Afghanistan on 15th February that year 1989.

Second Day, 6th January 1989, Friday. ASMAR. That day, in my way to Asmar, I observed the miseries of the war: corpses everywhere with signs of having been pilfered the boots and other possessions, houses bombed, villages razed, women and children fleeing to Pakistan, etc. I will always remember that second day because I saw coming in my direction an armed old man together with a beautiful young girl with lovely green eyes and sensual long black hair, also carrying a rifle. I continued gazing at her and, when we crossed, I turned back and continued staring at her for her unusual appearance in that situation. Then, the man with her also turned his back and directed his rifle towards me. In that same moment one of the mujahideen accompanying me, caught me violently from my shoulders turning me in the frontal direction and yelled me:

-“Are you crazy? Never put you at the back of an armed man! Fearing to be killed, he will fire at you first. You are very lucky that he did not!”

Third Day, 7th January 1989, Saturday. ASADABAD.

Asadabad was a guerrilla stronghold with mujahideen belonging to fifteen different parties fighting against the Communist Government and, sometimes, fighting among themselves. The town was a festival; there were buzkashi games (two groups of horsemen disputing a lamb) and lots of food. I was introduced to the leader of a minor party who promised to send me in a lorry until Kuz Kunar, in Nangarhar province, the gate of Jalalabad. There was a contest to shoot to some caricatures on cardboard representing Russian soldiers. When somebody hit the target, shouted: “One Russian less, ha-ha!” And everybody laughed, except me. I have family in Siberia, and moreover I felt sorrow for the human being situation. The mujahideen were born in one part of the planet by chance, and the Russians in another part of the same little planet, also by chance, and now they were killing each other. I was sad.

 

Fourth Day, 8th January 1989, Sunday. DONA’I. After breakfast I was called to embark in an old Russian lorry “Kamaz” going to the front of war, together with legions of mujahideen. Most of them walked. Having a truck was a privilege of the mujahideen parties receiving help from the Western countries or from the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia. I was not immediately accepted in Nurgal. A Hafiz, who was a kind of spiritual mullah directing the prayers (Hafiz is the one who has completely memorized the Koran), suspected of me as being a KGB agent. Then a mujahid started to talk to me in Russian employing elementary phrases, the type of “kak delo tovarish, vse v poriadke?”, but I answered in English that I did not understand. When the nice mujahideen brought me straw to lie comfortably on the floor of the ruins of the building where we all lived, or gave me a candle to write my diary when it became dark, or chai with “naan” for the dinner, the Hafiz observed disapproving it.

 

Fifth Day, 9th January 1989, Monday. KUZ KUNAR. After the first muslim prayer I was asked: “This is the moment of the truth, engris (all the Europeans are called Engris in Afghanistan), do you come to the war?”

Finally I reached the gate of Jalalabad and could even see the city at the distance. Mujahidin took positions and started to shoot. After the dinner suddenly we heard noise of engines. There were the Russian airplanes flying twice daily from Tashkent to bomb the mujahideen mountainous places for one hour each time. We hid in subterranean holes and tunnels forming labyrinths in the mountains. Every bomb impact blew up several houses. Even in the tunnels the earth trembled around us at every blast and parts of earth fell on our heads. The mujahideen prayed in Pashto: “Kher Allah!”. For me that was more than enough, and I gave up my plan to travel to Jalalabad city.

 

Sixth Day, 10th January 1989, Tuesday. KUZ KUNAR. The schedule of the war was as follows:

- 5 AM: Wake up. Toilet. First muslim prayer

- 6 AM: Chai and naan

- 7 AM: Russian Good Morning: one hour of bombs

- 8 AM: Shooting in the front

- 12 AM: Break for the second muslim prayer. Chai and naan

- 13 PM: Renewal of hostilities, missiles SCUD and grenades throwing

- 15 PM: Break for the third muslim prayer

- 16 PM: Clash intensification, bazookas and machine guns

- 17 PM: Pause for the fourth prayer

- 18 PM: End of the war journey. Chai and naan

- 19 PM: Russian Good Night: one hour of bombs

- 20 PM: Fifth muslim prayer. BBC news

- 21 PM: Toilet. Sleep

 

Seventh Day, 11th January 1989, Wednesday. PAKISTAN REFUGEE CAMP. That morning I left Afghan Kunar province to Pakistan surreptitiously together with many prisoners. Some of them asked me socks for their bleeding feet. There were all Afghanis; Russians prisoners were decapitated on the spot (most of the mujahideen used Russian belts that they wore with the communist star of the buckle put down). In our way up the mountains bordering Pakistan there were many women and children heading to the Refugee Camp in Pakistan. In the way down came often many donkeys carrying enormous howitzers, heavy shells and other weapons. Of course, they had preference and we (refugees, prisoners and me) had to let them pass first through the narrow, winding and dangerous paths. That evening I entered Pakistan and slept with the refugees, the next day I reached Peshawar, and some weeks later I travelled to India.

…….

2 – On rebel Bougainville Island, with Bougainville Revolutionay Army (BRA) leader Sam Kauona (1990)

 

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