Study Guide

Three Cups of Tea Chapter 23

By Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Chapter 23

Stones into Schools

  • Mortenson is on a plane and "The king sat in the window seat" (23.1). So this is where Elvis has been hiding out all these years…
  • Oh wait, Mortenson's referring to Afghanistan's former monarch, Zahir Shah.
  • He's surprisingly uninformed for a king, having no idea that Mortenson has been building schools in Pakistan for ten years and is branching out to Afghanistan.
  • The king tells Mortenson to speak to Sadhar Khan, who might be able to help him.
  • Mortenson lands in Kabul and will have to travel to Faizabad, the largest city in northeastern Afghanistan, by road.
  • Abdullah informs him just before midnight that the Salang Tunnel will close at 6:00AM so they have to haul.
  • Halfway through the tunnel, the radiator blows and the men get stuck.
  • They almost get run over by a speeding cargo truck.
  • To get out of the tunnel, Mortenson finds a crack in the wall and they push themselves through to the snowy mountain pass outside.
  • Mortenson realizes they can't hike down, so they go back inside, where they meet some refrigerator smugglers who are able to load the Jeep into their truck and haul it to the end of the tunnel.
  • Sitting in the back of the truck, Mortenson munches on some of the "juicy fruit" (23.55) and the taste is gonna move him.
  • They emerge from the tunnel, repair the Jeep, and get gas.
  • The area they are in is full of damaged buildings from the ongoing conflicts.
  • All of a sudden, machine gun fire breaks out, and the men have to lie face-down in the mud.
  • They are rescued by some friendly passing strangers, who smuggle them out of town as they hide under a pile of goatskins.
  • When they make it to safety, Mortenson says, "I was alone. I was covered in mud and goat blood. I'd lost my luggage. I didn't speak the local language" (23.78). Ugh.
  • After staying in a hotel, Mortenson travels to meet Sadhar Khan, who agrees with Mortenson's mission, saying, "We must turn these stones into schools" (23.113).
  • And with that, we're set up for the sequel.

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