Hi! It has been a tad longer than normal since my last post if you keep track of such things.(I try to keep them spaced somewhat evenly, one a week.) Not that it matters but a week generally gives me plenty to talk about and isn’t so often that it is a time burden or so rare that I don’t have a good journal of my time here. So what have I been up to and why the delay one might ask? Well I got to go on a little trip down to Kandahar. Other than that mostly office work and getting ready to go on the trip has been keeping me occupied. I did want to make not of something before I get to talking about the trip. Today I looked at my watch and realized it was Saturday, this was a little after lunch, then I realized that somehow being at work on a Saturday seemed normal. I wonder how I’ll adjust to not working everyday when I get back home. However I think I’ll be able to find plenty of thing to occupy my time.
Also a shout out to all my MWCI buddies especially those of the AXIS persuasion on their victory at NATS 2011, sorry I missed it. From the reports it sounds like a great battle was waged on the high seas of MN. BANZI!! BANZI!! BANZI!! Hopefully I wont have to miss to many more.
On another note I actually figured out what I want to dress up as for Halloween, if all goes well I should be home for it so now someone has to have a costume party that I can attend.
Alright onto the trip… We got a ride to the airport which is better than walking! (ok so they don’t let you walk it, details details) We had to go drop people off somewhere else first so we got to see a little more of downtown Kabul which is always an interesting experience. Saw a lot of small shops and motorcycle repair places. Everything is pretty run down and dusty but at the same time everyone seems to be going about the normal business of day to day life. We got to go through one of the “famous” traffic circles here which I’m not even going to try and spell, if I remember I’ll look it up and post it later.
We got to the airport rather early so we had tons of time to sit around and wait which turned out ok since we had left before lunch and our flight wasn’t till the late afternoon. We ended up going to the Thai place which was rumored to be rather good. It did not disappoint, then again standards here are a bit lower but still good food and would recommend it the next time you happen to find yourself at the military side of Kabul International Airport. After that we went back to the terminal and waited around till it was time to check in. The security scanning procedures here are significantly different than they are aback home, well actually the whole flying mil-air is significantly different than flying commercial. Still lots of waiting. They have a nice indoor waiting room once you check in, I ended up having a nice conversation with two gentlemen (one british and the other dutch I think) about guns and recoil and effects of getting hit with a bullet (would you fall down or not) things like that. (I was able to lend my engineering/science knowledge and help answer some of their questions so that was fun)
We flew on a Canadian C-130(made in America), not a bad flight. All the passenger seats are along the walls and face in or are down the center and face out. I slept a little as I tend to do on planes.
Once we deplaned we took a rather long (and hot) bus ride to the pax terminal and picked up our bags (we only had backpacks but they make us check everything). There we meet up with the guys were had gone down there to see. They took us over to the boardwalk which is one of the defining features at Kandahar. It is a quad surrounded by a boardwalk that looks like it is from an old western movie with shops and restraints ringing the outside. Inside is a huge sand/dirt field with a volleyball net and a street hockey rink (apparently the Canadians tend to win a lot, go figure). The place is really busy, almost like you’re on the boardwalk at VA Beach just pretty much everyone is carrying at least one firearm. (They even have the jets like VA beach does!) The shops surrounding the outside have pretty much everything, Pizza, ice cream, smoothies, coffee, Nathan’s Hot Dogs, TGI Friday’s, and more. Being there is a very strange feeling but at the same time it is a nice slice of homeish ness. I imagine that half the people there on any given night are just people watching, I would be. I ended up getting a Beef Gryo, which was actually pretty decent, for dinner along with an orange fanta. (which reminds me of the time I drank a two-liter of orange fanta for lunch on Switzerland since I couldn’t afford anything else and the train station was closed so I couldn’t cash a traveler’s check, but I digress.) After we made plans for the morning we got to our respective temp billeting. It was kind of funny as I ended up having a huge room all to myself while the COL was in VIP billeting and had to share the room with a bunch of other VIPs. Didn’t really sleep well but that’s neither here nor there.
In the morning we grabbed some breakfast. (they have I dunno 5-6 different DFACs you can eat at and they all have different national themes which slightly changes the food they serve. It was pretty cool to eat at different places and have a tiny bit more control over the menu than we normally have here at C3. (Camp CupCake aka CCC aka C3, which I’m now calling where I’m at so I can avoid using it’s real name)
The day went by pretty quick, meet a ton of people and went to meetings and talked work stuff. Nothing to exciting.
Oh it’s hot dusty and dry at Kandahar, it got up to 50C that afternoon which is about 122F. True it is a dry heat which is better than 122F w 80% humidity but it’s still rather warm. And there are maybe 10 trees on base so not a ton of shade. I was chugging bottles of water almost as fast as I could get my hands on one and I feel like I barely stayed hydrated. But really the heat isn’t the bad part about Kandahar, sure it’s hot and sweaty and dirty and stuff but that’s really not THAT bad, you deal with it. The bad part about Kandahar is the poo pond. Yup they have an open cesspool right smack in the middle of the base(damn CivEs), complete with aerators and biohazard warning signs (I’ll try and upload a pic I took of it. Also if you’re into crappie fishing, it is a no limit pond…) It smells pretty much exactly like you might imagine it smells, as the wind shifts the smell just wafts across base to different areas. Try to avoid it directly after eating is my advice. It is an experience, builds character…..
Not much else really, we left the next morning and took an Italian C-130 back to Kabul International Airport and then I was able to get us a ride back to C3 a couple hours ahead of schedule so that was nice. Back in plenty of time for steak night, gotta have priorities….
Also stuff seems to happen when I’m gone. Last time it was the suicide bomber at the local hospital. This time apparently there was a gun fight between two afghans over a a debt or money or something close by. Neither really had much if anything to do with C3 but apparently stuff happens in Kabul when I’m not here. (then again I’m sure plenty of stuff goes on when I am here, It’s a big city with the same types of problems that all big cities face and that is before you consider that they country has been at war more or less my entire life.)
That’s about all for now, Im going to try and post pictures from Kandahar.