You prepare yourself for it. The colors in the mountains—seemingly made of granite and sand—are a palette you could not have imagined. Photographs taken from the UNHAS plane past the propeller blades do not do the variations justice.

And then you see it. A massive rock face, dotted with openings for caves that remind you of Dunhuang. And there, in the center, in the shape of those Russian dolls, a carving into rock that ascends through the rock to almost three-quarters of the way to the top.

And it is vacant.

The Bamyan of the Destroyed Buddhas.

I still cannot comprehend how the human breast carries within it at times such fiery disregard for and soulless destruction of the heights to which humans can ascend.