- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 20, 2002

ON THE ROAD TO KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) Some travelers trudge along on foot, others pedal by on bicycles. There are mule-drawn carts. Colorfully decorated buses with passengers crowded on the roofs rumble past, belching exhaust and swirling dust.
The two-lane, potholed road from the Pakistani city of Quetta to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan is a 200-mile museum of transportation.
Bustling villages line the Pakistani portion of the road but become scarce as it climbs to more than 8,000 feet, winding through the serpentine Kozak Pass to a breathtaking view of the Afghan desert sprawling into the distance.
The route makes for a jolting ride once the asphalt ends at the border town of Chaman.
Small taxis and private cars crammed with families jockey with big trucks hauling grain, cattle, even people, weaving along ruts worn into the gravel. The road narrows to one lane at bridges partly destroyed by U.S.-led bombing. Occasional roadside graves remind travelers of accidents.
From a distance, convoys of vehicles send dust storms roiling over the desert. Three cars and a truck traveling close together can cause a "dust-out" reducing visibility to near zero and heightening the threat from drivers weaving in and out of traffic, trying to pass.
The temperature can soar as high as 120 degrees.
After numerous scrapes with oncoming cars that ignore lanes, spine-jolting encounters with holes and an occasional opportunity to admire the scenery, a passenger glimpses through the dust a faint glimmer on the road ahead.
Suddenly, back and hips tell you it isn't a mirage: It's asphalt, and Kandahar is not far ahead.

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