COMMENT: Knowing that many of our loyal readers have been checking on the status of an American/Canadian couple that disappeared while hiking in Afghanistan on October 8, 2012, I wanted to update what is currently known about US citizen Caitlan Coleman, 27, and her Canadian husband, Josh.
As much as I have attempted to be an advocate for foreign travelers who have disappeared, and as a follow-up to my numerous postings of 12/31/12, 1/1/13, 1/17/13 and 1/30/13, it appears that the welfare of Caitlan and Josh, despite the efforts of their parents and the US and Canadian embassies in Kabul, the whereabouts of the couple has slipped well below the media thresh-hold.
The harsh reality is that I strongly discourage any traveler(s) from visiting war-zones WITHOUT a well-supported organizational sponsor, which Caitlan and Josh did NOT have.
In point of fact, the non-existence of such a sponsor may have contributed to the misfortune this couple befell.
In my posting of 1/17/13, I outlined seven factors that should be vigorously considered before backpackers visit any war-zone. All of these factor remain valid.
The worst part of this tragedy is that Caitlan and Josh were expecting their first child in January 2013.
Hence, it is not even known whether the couple was alive when the baby was due, as they were last seen FIVE months ago.
For those naive travelers who may be reading this, if you do nothing else BEFORE traveling abroad, go to the on-line website of your foreign affairs agency and learn whether it is safe to travel to your destination.
If there is one lesson to be learned from independent travelers visiting active war-zones, please DON'T, as far too many very bad things can happen to those who still believe that foreigners can travel anywhere. They simply cannot.