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It had been a couple of years since I ended my service as a U.S. Marines combat correspondent, and I wanted to get back to the war.
Traveling as a civilian, I paid my own way and had hardly any support, but I also had more freedom to travel than when I was in uniform.
I took the following photos during the time between my arrival in Kabul and my official embed date (until which, no military unit will give you refuge, regardless of your citizenship). For these few days I played tourist; found a nice little guest house, contracted a driver and an interpreter, and headed on daily road trips around the area.
What I saw was a country hardened by decades of war and poverty — but also filled with sympathetic people whom you'll rarely see in Western media. People who, in the midst of chaotic street life, insisted I take my shoes off and get comfortable, drink tea and eat candy prior to doing business. Kids living in squalor who still dreamed of becoming doctors and engineers — and were thrilled to pose for pictures and beat me in impromptu soccer matches.
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