How Long Did It Take You To Realize You Weren’t Cut Out For The Life Of A Foreign Correspondent?

Chris Woolf - Bumbling Through the Hindu Kush

Chris Woolf here, author of “Bumbling Through the Hindu Kush: A Memoir of Fear and Kindness in Afghanistan” and I’m here to answer your questions about the book, myself, Afghanistan, or life, the universe and everything!

Today’s question is from Susan in Long Island, New York, who connected with us through Instagram.

Susan asked “How long did it take you to realize you weren’t cut out for the life of a foreign correspondent?”

That’s a really good question.

For new readers, a quick bit of background. I was a BBC journalist when I went to Afghanistan.

I was visiting my buddy to see if I would like a life in the field, and the TLDR version is that I found it disagreeable. Getting shot at, avoiding landmines, cut-throats, and such like.

But when did I come to that realization? It actually took a while for me to pull the plug on the idea of becoming a foreign correspondent: a couple of years, and another trip, to Africa.

But I can remember the exact moment when I first doubted whether I was cut out for the life. It was in Afghanistan. We had been bumbling thru the battle lines in the Hindu Kush mountains for more than a week, and we finally found a vehicle and a driver willing to take us back to the capital, Kabul.

We’d just had the most terrifying 24 hours of the trip already. I was doing my best to just put up with it all, as part of the job. But I was only just holding it together.

Then we ran into a military fuel convoy on the road ahead of us.

It’s a narrow road and our driver is rolling the dice every time he overtakes another fuel tanker, because we have no idea if there’s anything coming the other way.

Then my buddy reminds me how these convoys are always getting ambushed. We’d seen hundreds of wrecks on our travels. And the last time he was in this situation, a rocket blew up a tanker right in front of him.

He was so nonchalant about it, and I realized I don’t think I would enjoy such a life that was so routinely full of adrenaline and fear.

So there’s more to it, but that was the exact moment when the doubt first came into my mind.

I hope that starts to answer your question, Susan. Thanks so much.

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