Afghanistan appears daily in headlines as a dangerous, war-torn and impoverished country. Almost all of the media coverage focuses on the fighting there, making it difficult to get any sense of what is going on away from the gunfire, and what daily life is really like.
Enter intrepid contractor (and photographer) Peretz Partensky.
Partensky spent four months in Afghanistan capturing these amazing images, which were originally posted to his blog Jalalagood. Business Insider described Partensky as an independent contractor, which allowed him to "travel freely around the nation with credentials that allowed him access to Army bases but he also 'had the local garb and faithful friends' to guide him around the country."
Look at his fascinating photos and see for yourself.
A rooftop view of the Jalalabad valley with its green fields leading to the Kabul river, and in the background, the imposing Hindu Kush Mountains.
The ferry to get across the Jalalabad river certainly has an old-fashioned feel.
When workers in the field want some music to keep them going, they turn to nature's stereo-- the sound of songbirds.
A so-called "carpet classroom," similar to many like it across Afghanistan.
The Jalalabad-Kabul highway is a treacherous drive through the Hindu Kush mountains.
Perhaps to the chagrin of warlords visiting wounded relatives, hospitals require you to leave your kalashnikov at the door. Conveniently, many establishments in Afghanistan have lockers that allow you to check weapons in.
To provide safety for the revelers below during Nowruz, the Persian New Year, soldiers slept on nearby roofs in the city center of Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. Note what appears to be a Russian-style PK machine gun on his cot.
There is no shortage of guns in Afghanistan. This shop, which sells mostly Soviet-made shotguns, apparently will give visitors a tour of the "behind the counter" weapons if asked nicely.
Visa is apparently accepted everywhere you want to be, including this rug store in the old quarter of Herat in western Afghanistan.
Not for the faint of heart, tourists can get a haircut on the street for $1, including the use of a straight razor. Ouch.
Here you see riders engaged in Afghanistan's national sport-- a sort of Panjshir valley take on polo called "Buzkashi." Men on horseback try to drag a goat carcass into a hole, and lots of fighting and yelling ensues.
You can see more of the slideshow here, courtesy of Business Insider.