Somalia was created by the union of British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland, which were granted independence in 1960.  Today, nearly a half century later, it is a showcase for what the modern Negro can do with his own country once freed from the shackles of European colonialism.  And nowhere is this achievement more aptly demonstrated than in the capital city, Mogadishu.

    Civility, refinement, peace, order, safety, courtesy, and cleanliness: these are the qualities that set Mogadishu apart from most other capital cities.  The natural beauty of the sea, the sand, and the surrounding countryside combine with the calm atmosphere of its pretty, tree-lined streets and the graciousness of its people to make it just the place where you can go to decompress, recharge, and feel human again.

    You can choose from numerous little hotels that are cheap and very basic in their amenities, or you can splurge and enjoy the luxuries afforded by the Park Hyatt Mogadishu, which overlooks a harbor usually full of multi-colored sailboats and yachts.  Manager Paul Verciglio runs a highly efficient establishment with a cadre of bellhops resplendent in their original Versace uniforms of emerald green with gold buttons.  You will find fresh flowers (corpse lily, dragon arum, Stapelia, and Huernia) in your room, as well as a little fridge with wine and cakes and a bar stocked with miniatures.

    “It’s a good life in Mogadishu,” says Paul with a contented sigh.  “Much more peaceful than the big cities in Italy, with all their violence and social unrest.  In fact, it’s an extraordinarily quiet city.  At night you will only hear the gently pounding surf and the cuckoos calling to each other.  By day, if you go downtown, you won’t even hear a radio playing loud or a car horn.”

    Another reason for the peacefulness of the city is the curfew on juveniles under sixteen.  They must be off the street by midnight, otherwise they can count on being picked up by one of the many serious-looking officers clad in stunning scarlet uniforms and white pith helmets designed by Gucci.

    Despite its break from its colonial past, Mogadishu is full of Italian influence in its architecture, food, and fashions.  Along the fashionable Via Jamaal Cabdi-Naasir, you will find shops of Dolce & Gabbana, Georgio Armani, and Roberto Cavalli, fine Italian restaurants, and the Globo Cinema, which runs a lot of spaghetti westerns.  But two Canadians have also opened for business.  Twin fashion designers Dan and Dean Caten, originally from Toronto, have opened a store called Dufarr.  They are the prime movers behind Mogadishu’s nascent annual fashion show, which is rapidly developing into an international event.  And now it is rumored that they have struck a deal to bring Victoria’s Secret to Mogadishu with a show this coming December and the simultaneous launch of a boutique.

    Be sure to have a meal at Pelle’s, an Italian restaurant run by Sebastiano Pelle, former head chef at the prestigious La Pergola in Rome.  The best deal is the “Catch of the Day,” which consists of whatever washed up on the beach that morning, served with no-name pasta and sauce. 

    High culture abounds in Mogadishu — live theater, a Shakespeare Festival, ballet, and the Mogadishu Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Coolio (a Negro), which recently recorded a 12-hour compilation of Songs of the Somali Fishermen for Sony.

    Mogadishu’s large metropolitan area is well-served by a fleet of electric buses, whose operators are splendidly clad in pickle green and mustard yellow uniforms designed by H.J. Heinz of Pittsburgh.  But this is a city that was made for walking, so put on your comfy shoes and just walk.  You’ll notice that there is not a scrap of litter anywhere.  These people are fanatics about clean streets, so don’t litter.  It means a $50 fine. 

    Head for the city’s Central Park, which features spectacular fountains modeled after those found on the palatial estate of Benito Mussolini, and meticulously groomed plots of foxglove, water hemlock, titan arum, and Jimson weed.  It’s the perfect retreat for poets.   Indeed, the Toronto Star once informed its readers that the Somalis were the poets of Africa.  You’ll see them sitting on the benches, scribbling away.  I met Mogadishu’s Poet-in-Residence, Yusef Qanees.  He showed me his latest poem, titled Epiphany:

    The steam from a cup of tea

    sets frogs a-singing

    in the pool of blood behind my typewriter.

    The richest neighborhood is the ultra-chic Wagberi district, where a number of new stately homes have sprouted up.  Robert Pattinson owns one.  Others are owned by Jennifer Aniston, Annie Duke, Michael Vick, and Gene Simmons.

    Mogadishu has joined the growing trend in Third World countries of pairing up with a “sister city” in the U.S.  Mogadishu is now the sister city of Miami, whose Mayor, Manny Diaz, explains why: “Both cities begin with ‘M.’  Both cities are on the ocean.  And both cities consist mostly of minorities.”  Making the arrangements was difficult because Mogadishu tends to be “in and out” of mayors.  Fortunately, a prominent citizen, AbdiRisak Isse, took it upon himself to make the deal, since he manages the Coca Cola bottling plant, a position of even higher prestige than Mayor.

    Mogadishu’s future is indeed bright, thanks to its proximity to vast deposits of silicon dioxide, which one can literally scoop up by the bucketful.  And foreign capital is eager to invest in this grand, exotic city, kissed by the warm waves of the Indian Ocean, where porpoises and sperm whales frolic without a care.

    As I was leaving my hotel, the bellhop, upon learning I lived in Canada, asked, “Do you know Michael Ignatieff?”  I said I didn’t know him personally.  “He looks like a big, stupid dung beetle,” the bellhop continued.  “I want to step on his head and crush it like the dung beetle he is.  I feel so sorry for Canada.”  I tipped him generously.

    Recommended vaccinations: encephalitis, yellow fever, Buerger’s Disease.

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

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    You’ve already been to Bangkok.  In fact, you’ve been seen too much there.  They know what you are.  Now you’ll have to find another place to fulfill your sick needs.  Fortunately, I know of such a place: Quetta, Pakistan.  You can get whatever you want there.  It’s a Sinner’s Paradise!  And it’s still in its early days, so prices are modest. 

    They love Westerners in Quetta — especially Americans.  Just stroll around the bazaars and speak loudly with an American accent, and, like magic, bearded men will step out of the shadows and offer to take you for a long drive in the country, no charge.  Now that’s hospitality!

    This pro-Western attitude can be traced back to 1990, when former CIA Director Admiral  Stansfield Turner took a side-trip to Quetta while on vacation.  Walking around town looking for fun, he went into a karaoke bar, got rather drunk, and stood up and gave a spectacular rendition of Maybellene, by Chuck Berry.  Quetta has never been the same since.

    Because of my literary reputation as the funniest living writer in the English language, I was shown around the city by the Mayor, Maqbool Ahmed Lehri, who is the author of a short book, Approved Jokes For Muslims.  Maqbool, as he prefers to be called, explained that since 2000, Quetta has been the “sister city” of Grand Island, Nebraska, which has a large Paki community and an identical climate to Quetta’s.  Mayor Ken Gnadt of Grand Island, who was into multiculturalism, proposed the arrangement and made the trip to seal the deal.  He and Maqbool got zonked on qat and ended up in the only good whorehouse at the time.  “America should know about this place!” burbled Gnadt enthusiastically, and Maqbool decided then and there to develop Quetta as a place for decadent Westerners to have fun.

    But what about strict Muslim standards, and sharia law, and all that  repressive stuff?  “That’s in Islamabad and some of the hick towns,” says Maqbool.  “Quetta is modern.  Sure, there are some radicals who scream about sin, but you get that in the West, too.  Most people ignore them.” 

    I was lodged in a penthouse at the Hampton Inn & Suites, managed by Neville Ira-Gould, a former Israeli paratrooper, whose family controls a kitchen utensil conglomerate.  A keen businessman himself, he made a fortune on the Karachi Stock Exchange on a company that processes sheep manure into biofuel.  The Hampton may not be the biggest or most luxurious hotel in Quetta, but like all the Hampton hotels, you get excellent value, and the beds are sized for normal people, not ugly, dwarfish Asian minorities.

    Mayor Maqbool drove me around in his limo and showed me Jinnah Road and the Shahrah-e-Zarghun, which are one big entertainment district, heavy on sex but well-lit, safe, and with a good crowd of well-dressed people.  This is civilization!

    But first, a few drinks to get primed.  Noor’s Pub on Jinnah Road is a lively place.  The drinks are strong, everyone smokes, and a satellite TV brings in English soccer games.  Noor Muhammad is the owner — a congenial fellow who tells coarse jokes in several languages.  He loves Jews and Americans.

    The slot machine in Noor’s isn’t reliable, so go across the street to the Gaddha Casino, which is run by a Japanese expat named Makoto Hirata.  “I was an accountant for a Tokyo bank, but I got bored, so I embezzled a lot of money and came to Quetta.  They don’t extradite people in this country, so there’s a whole community of Japanese here who had some reason to get away,” he explains.  The Pakis are still learning the casino games, so for now the clientele is mostly Western.  Poker and slots take up most of the floor space.  A Jap named Shuichi Mogi got very drunk and very lucky while we were there, but he was a friend of the owner, so it was okay. 

    Maqbool took me to Domenico’s, a pretty good Italian restaurant on the Shahrah-e-Zarghun, owned by Domenico Raccuglia.  It’s a gathering place for Italian expats, the same as with the Japs, if you get my drift.  (Maqbool wanted to take me to a Pashto joint where they served sheep brains, a favorite dish in Quetta, but I wasn’t brave enough for that.)

    Next, it was on to the hookers at the notorious Nawab Club, run by Abdul Qadir Kasi (“Casey” to his friends), who claims to have absolutely any type of woman you want.  Maqbool went off with a slutty Russian babe (“My god-daughter”), and I had an encounter with a tiny Indian girl whose parents had been eaten by a tiger in the picturesque village of Ludhiana, where nose flutes are made.  The standard price in Quetta is $30, and you can’t even buy a carton of cigarettes in Canada for that.

    We didn’t go into Quetta’s foremost gay club, but I’ll mention it because Quetta is very gay-friendly.  It’s called Bottoms Up, and it’s run by el-Farouk Khaki, who is also a city health inspector.

    The big event of the year in Quetta is the annual Erotic Film Festival, which runs for two weeks in September.  This year’s guests will include Jenna Jameson, Asia Carrera, Jesse Jane, Stephanie Swift, Jessica Drake, Inari Vachs, and Shayla LaVeaux.  Last year’s winner in the documentary category was Ron Mann’s Chinese Squid Women, a hard-core film about women having sex with squids (still banned in Canada).  Ron Jeremy, who was one of last year’s presenters, arrived late because he couldn’t read his own handwriting and flew to Quito (Ecuador) instead of Quetta.  One of this year’s presenters will be Al Gore.  Several media events will take place at the Hampton Inn & Suites, as always.

    Quetta’s porn shops are open all night.  They’re all up and down the Shahrah-e-Zarghun on both sides, just like 42nd St. in the old days (but much cleaner).  There are a lot of locally-produced DVD’s in Urdu and Pashto with no subtitles, and this is bizarre, extreme stuff that probably doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.  I recognized a well-known TV evangelist from the U.S., and I won’t tell you who.  Blow-up dolls of Hillary Clinton with gigantic tits are one of the hottest items on the street.

    But there are also wholesome things to do and see in Quetta.  There is the Pakistan Hockey Hall of Fame, which proudly displays a signed photo of Greg Neeld, who now manages a company called Hawkeye Gold, which is the worst piece of shit on the Canadian Venture Exchange (ticker symbol: HKO).

    There is a theme park called Terror Land, where you can shoot paintball guns (Commandos Vs. Taliban), drive a go-cart through a simulated mine field, and blow up a bus full of people. 

    The Prophet Mohammed Racetrack was closed during my visit, because of some sort of horse disease, but it should be back in operation sometime this summer.

    Nature lovers will want to spend an afternoon at Hanna Lake, not far from Quetta.  It has a monster like the Loch Ness monster.  I didn’t see it, but many people have.  It was seen as recently as March of 2009 by Lindsay Lohan, who was on a photo shoot for Revlon.  An elevated viewing platform also allows you to watch crocodiles feed on sacrificial goats thrown into the lake by devout Sufi mystics from the colony at Turbat.

    The morning of my departure, Maqbool took me to a Jewish bagel place for breakfast and got me stoned on a poppy seed bagel.  He thought it was a good joke.  “Opium comes from poppies, right?” he explained.  “Your poppy seeds in the West come from a different variety of poppy, so you don’t get stoned.  Here we use the true opium poppy for the seeds, so the bagels give you a great high.”  Wow, they are so way ahead of us in Pakistan!

    As he dropped me off at the airport, Maqbool remembered I lived in Canada.  “Do you know Ujjal Dosanjh?” he asked me.  I said I didn’t know him personally.  “Well, if you ever meet up with that miserable low-caste prick, you tell him that if he dares to set foot in Quetta again, I will personally kick his wog ass back to India, where he belongs!”  Okay, whatever.

    Recommended vaccinations: Schistosomiasis, Chagas disease, sheep and goat pox.

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

    Tired of spending your hard-earned vacation money on some popular destination, only to find out that it’s so yesterday?  Wouldn’t you like to be in the avant-garde for once, instead of bringing up the rear on a pokey donkey, as always?  Well, now you can!  There is a place that is not yet on tourists’ radar but will be before long.  That place is Snuol, Cambodia (or, as it is also called, Angk Snuol). 

    Conan O’Brien calls it “the most brilliant unknown vacation spot on earth.”  And you will, too.  Happy Cambodians are eagerly awaiting your arrival.  They love Westerners.  Angelina Jolie found her first adopted baby in Snuol.  And now Madonna says that Snuol is her next stop if things don’t work out in Malawi.  They’re in the know!

    You’ll fly to Kratie and then ride south by bus on Highway 7 about fifty miles to Snuol.  (Keep your camera ready for the fabulous Temple of Golonka, half-way along, on your left.  It was one of the locations used in the 1970 movie Horror of the Blood Monsters.)

    If you could float above Snuol and look in all directions, you would see an amazing array of environments: to the north, forested hills of cedar, mahogany, and baobob; to the east, endless fields of artichokes, pumpkins, strawberries, barley, and beets; to the south, a wind-swept mesa populated by penguins; and to the west, a painted desert of cacti, vultures, and gila monsters.  The area around Snuol is a zoologist’s dream, hosting many rare species, including the flying moose squirrel, the red elephant goldfish, Swanson’s screaming bat, the pink-nosed iguana, the tiger anteater, the worm hawk, the trumpet-eared monkey, the Mimico diving giraffe, the Hungarian zipper snake, the Corinthian warthog, the barking sand toad, the gunga viper, the buzzsaw moth, the wild buffalo chicken, Hondo’s chameleon mole, Corman’s monster crab, and the blue-speckled burping manatee.  Exotic fauna are too numerous to list, but visitors will not want to miss the Snuol Museum of Slime Mold, which was established by a generous grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    On the outskirts of Snuol, Donald Trump will be breaking ground later this year on a 50-story condominium/hotel/casino complex, which will be the tallest building in Cambodia.  Until that’s finished, you can avail yourself of the more-than-satisfactory amenities of the Park Inn, Snuol’s only hotel.  Manager Betty Liu was hired in 2006 to clean the place out after the Giant Spider Invasion and now confidently promises, “No spider you will see, or your room it will be free!”  Liu is an enthusiastic booster of Cambodia: “Very honest country.  Very progressive government.  No corruption.”  Rooms at the Park Inn are only $55 U.S. per night.  Cheap!

    Snuol people are friendly.  And most of them speak some English.  But you’ll make a really grand impression on them if you use these handy phrases in Khmer:

    “I am happy to meet you.”  (“Choi ch’kai anh.”)

    “It is very pleasant here.”  (“Choi k’det anh.”)

    “I am looking for the toilet.”  (“Choi k’doi anh.”)

    “I will see you later.”  (“Choi mai misa pang.”)

    “Thank you.”  (“K’daw.”)

    “You’re welcome.”  (“K’doi.”)

    “I would like this one, please.”  (“K’doi mai vi’en.”)

    Don’t be surprised to see warthogs on the streets.  (I’m referring to the common Cambodian warthog, not the rare Corinthian one.)  People have been feeding them for years, so they have lost their fear of people and now walk into town, expecting to be fed.  But don’t feed them!  There is now an ordinance against it. 

    Snuol’s great urban myth is the existence of videos of women having sex with warthogs.  Some people say they were produced by the Khmer Rouge to raise money.  Others say they were produced by friends of former King Sihanouk.  And still others say they were produced by officials of Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (an allegation they hotly deny).  Almost everyone swears these videos exist, but no one claims actually to have seen one (perhaps because there are very few VCR’s in Snuol). 

    Well, even if you can’t feed the warthogs or watch videos of warthogs fucking women, you can at least eat warthogs — at The Tusk, one of Snuol’s restaurants.  The owner is an American expat, Justin Franchi Solondz, who is a self-taught cook.  The food is, shall we say, interesting.  The “warthog with truffles” is served with a gravy containing brown clumps that we sincerely hope are the truffles, or at least some kind of mushroom.

    Oddly enough, all the restaurants in Snuol are run by non-Cambodians.  The Oriental Garden (pretty good mainstream Chinese) is run by Harris Dempsey Ballow.  Bagelicious (Kosher, fair-quality, cheap) is run by Chaim Yehuda Reich.  Seventh Heaven (good but overpriced soul food) is run by Odowa Roland Okuomosa.  The Olive Tree (Italian, not the best) is run by Juris Teteris.  Khmer Pizza, run by Fernando  Grijalva, is reasonably good, but avoid any toppings that are still moving before they hit the oven.

    Snuol’s most unusual attraction is the Elvis Park — a large, complex maze of hedges with statues of American music stars scattered throughout.  It’s an odd collection.  In addition to Elvis Presley, you will find the Everly Brothers, Black Sabbath, the Beach Boys, Ricky Nelson, Chuck Berry, Alice Cooper, Neil Sedaka (a god in Cambodia!), the Supremes, Eddie Van Halen, Bobby Darin, the Big Bopper, Bill Haley, Johnny Cash, and Frank Zappa.  (Rumor has it that Adam Lambert will be next!)

    I met Kem Sopranei, Cambodia’s leading Elvis impersonator, who comes home to Snuol between big-city gigs.  He’s an e-mail pal of Miley Cyrus and Julianne Hough.  He wants them to come over to Cambodia so he can fuck them.  “You Westerners have a strange misconception about Asian women,” he insists.  “You think they know all these secret sexual techniques.  They don’t.  They’re duds compared to American women.  American women are the best at every sort of sex.  Cambodian women are only good for cooking.”  An expert speaks!

    The Mayor of Snuol, Parthasarathie (“Call me Perry”) Kapoor, took me on a terrifyingly high-speed motorcycle ride into the country to show me the fields of artichokes (Snuol is the artichoke capital of Asia).  We also stopped to look at Angelina Jolie’s estate, which is vacant most of the year but nevertheless well-maintained by admiring volunteers.  Perry is a fearsome card player, by his own account, and he claims to have cleaned out Heng Samrin and Chea Sim, two high-ranking officials of the Cambodian People’s Party, in an all-night poker game.  They threatened to have him killed, but he’s sure they didn’t mean it.  (Perry also confided to me that he had made a great deal of money investing with Bernard Madoff.  And where is it now?  In a bank in Panama.)

    Don’t go home without loading up on Cambo Cigarettes.  They are excellent and very cheap.  I smoke them, and so should you.  Give them to your children, too.  And if you’re returning to New York City, you can shove a pack up Michael Bloomberg’s ass.

    For now, Snuol is the cheap and brilliant vacation — cheaper than anything advertised in the Travel section of your newspaper.  But once the word gets around, it’ll cost more, so don’t wait!

    Recommended vaccinations: Hanta virus, Zabunga virus-A, swine pseudorabies.

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com

    What do you think of when you hear “Afghanistan”?  If you’re like most people, you probably think of mindless death and destruction, suicide bombers, roadside bombs, terrorists, the Taliban, Muslim fanatics screaming “Death to America!”, poverty, ignorance, disease, filth, backwardness, and stupid, barbaric men beating, mutilating, and murdering their women because they want to enroll in a typing course.  Sure, all of that does exist — but mainly in the south.  The northern part of the country is very different, which is lucky for you because that’s where you’re going.  That’s right.  You’re heading for the exotic city of Qonduz — the Jewel of Afghanistan, the Gateway to the North, the City That Never Sleeps!

    Just make sure your travel agent doesn’t send you to the wrong place.  Qonduz is also spelled Konduz, and it is not to be confused with Kondoz or Kunduz, which are also in the north but are different places.  You have to book your flight on Ariana Afghan Airlines (“We Make Every Flight An Adventure!”), because no one else flies to Qonduz.  Ariana won’t fly you to Kondoz or Kunduz by mistake, because those cities don’t even have airports, and the pilots are not going to commit suicide by trying to land there.  The suicidal ones are screened out in the job interview.  Or let’s hope so.

    Qonduz used to be a shabby little dump stuck in the 12th Century, but thanks to the presence of American and NATO forces, it has been pushed ahead into the 20th Century — like roughly the 1970’s.  So they’re still behind us but only by a little.  Yes, you will still find a lot of hairy men in sandals working in dirty little shops, but now you will also find modern buildings, nice stores, bright lights, fast food, and normal urban entertainments — including alcohol, gambling, and prostitution.

    There is only one really good hotel — the Radisson Plaza Admiral Qonduz, or “R.P.A.” for short.  It’s an absolute magnet for NATO troops on leave, because it has all the modern amenities, and every room costs $100 U.S. a night, regardless of the number of occupants.  So it’s Party Central!  Manager Dermot McKeown, a transplanted Londoner, is an enthusiastic booster of the new Qonduz.  “This place is more exciting than London and much safer.  Qonduz is jumping twenty-four hours a day, and you can go anywhere any time and not have to worry about getting robbed, shot, or blown up.  Qonduzers are wonderful hosts.  They love Westerners and will pick up tourists spontaneously and say, ‘Hey, you American?  I show you good time!'”

    The fellow who decided to show me a good time was a taxi driver named Ahmad, who was on his day off but offered to drive me around for a few dollars.  We stopped briefly at the Labour Exchange, where people seek any sort of work.  At the men’s exchange (there is a separate one for women), there were mostly poor, young boys.  Ahmad asked me if I liked boys, and I said no.  (It was here, by the way, that Ellen DeGeneres and her partner, Portia de Rossi, “rescued” a deformed 8-year-old boy named Yama, whom they adopted.)  The women’s exchange is largely for girls seeking employment as domestics, although they are mostly picked up by foreigners as daily “companions.”

    The Duck Pond is located in the city’s park.  It has ducks but no fish.  Old men “fish” for the ducks using simple fishing rods and pieces of bread.  If a duck is stupid enough to get hooked, it gets strangled on the spot and is then taken home and eaten.

    The city has an 18-hole golf course, which Tiger Woods has described as the most challenging course he has ever played, thanks to unexploded ordnance in the ground. 

    Qonduz also boasts the world’s second-smallest library, and a museum of amputated limbs.

    The selection of restaurants includes all the familiar Western fast-food chains, which are run according to Western standards, so they have proper toilets and no rats.  The local Afghani eateries must be treated as “high-risk” by Western visitors.  These places have unusual smells and have never seen a health inspector.

    Culinary “fusion” is provided by the popular Lentil Heaven, which offers a variety of Western foods smothered with lentils, such as lentil burgers, lentil tacos, and lentil pizza.  The place is owned by Michelle Obama, wife of President Barack Obama, through her private holding company, Bamco.

    Every great city has its naughty district, and Qonduz is no exception.  Its naughty district is the Batouti Bazaar (or just “Bazaar”) — formerly an area of humble shops and street stalls but now a glitzy circus of bars, cinemas, casinos, and strip clubs.  There is a highly visible contingent of hookers — all Russian. 

    The most notorious attraction in the Bazaar is a raunchy club called the No-Go, which features a woman who has sex with squids.  Her name is Nadira, but she, too, looks Russian.  She’s hot-looking and has big tits.  She comes out naked, in high heels, she lies down on this mat, and an assistant places squids on her body.  Nadira then writhes and moans and pretends to be having sex with these squids, which are sucking her breasts and pubes — sort of like Bela Lugosi pretending to struggle with the giant octopus in Bride of the Monster.  The audience is supposed to believe that the squids are alive and are actually sucking her body.  Rush Limbaugh was in the audience when I visited, and I went over to him and asked him why he was there.  He said, “I’m trying to understand how these people think!”

    Across the street from the No-Go is a strip club called Jihada-Dada, which is always packed with soldiers.  Diamanti Damons was headlining there for an entire month.

    Qonduz has a rodeo every October.  It’s called the Qonduz Stampede.  Afghani cowboys lasso donkeys, ride them, and then shoot them.  The kids love it.

    Be sure to make time for a day trip across the border to Tajikistan to visit the Tigrovaya Balka Nature Reserve, where many endangered species of wildlife are protected.  It was here that Dennis Rodman, while on an errand for Donald Trump, identified a Chongawarry fruit bat — a species thought to be extinct.  For this contribution to science, Rodman was awarded the Tajikistan Conservancy Medal.

    Tourists in Qonduz need U.S. dollars or euros.  No one wants the Afghani currency.  Your credit cards should be used only when necessary; otherwise, best keep them out of sight.  There is also an informal barter system, so bring a supply of women’s panties, chewing gum, cigarettes, sunglasses, and guns.

    The climate is cold in the winter and hot in the summer.  Spring and fall are pleasant.  However, Qonduz, unfortunately, is directly in the path of migrating locust swarms, which happen occasionally in the spring and fall (but they only last for a day).

    Recommended vaccinations: anthrax, dengue fever, mouse typhoid.

    Copyright@ 2009 by Crad Kilodney, Toronto, Canada.  E-mail: crad166@yahoo.com