On Sunday I got two pieces of news that made me sit up and pay attention. The first news was that the airstrip in Ghor was closing on Wednesday for repairs and the second news was that my Afghan visa had expired and I would not be let out of the country until it was renewed.
So I jumped on the first flight out of Ghor (a week ahead of plan) and spent a day in Herat transfering money from my Afghan to my NZ bank account and trying to charm the consulate staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs into overlooking my lapsed visa and renewing it. An Afghan friend with extraordinary diplomatic skills and a great network helped out and they promised to issue it by next Tuesday.
Then it emerged that I would need a transit visa for India or be forced to sleep overnight in the terminal, but I could only get that visa in Kabul. So I left my UN passport in Herat, jumped on the first plane to Kabul (via Mazar) and took my NZ passport to the Indian embassy on Thursday morning - to be told initially that they require three working days to issue a visa and because of the Eid holidays my passport would not be ready until next Thursday (when I am due to fly). But again something worked in my favour: charm, smiles, the end of Ramadan approaching; I don't know what did it but be 4.30pm I walked away from the Embassy with my passport and new visa in hand.
I think this trip is charmed - every step of the way little unexpected challenges have popped up and against all odds and in direct contradiction to the predictions of seasoned hands - solutions have appeared, in time.
It looks like I won't be needing a donkey this time.
PS: Go visit Laini's blog where she makes me feel like a superstar by posting about my love affair with Magpie, the lead character in Laini's "Faries of Dreamdark" series.