Saturday, August 27, 2011

19 Aug 2011

Hey hey!  Again another blog entry that wont be posted for at least another week, oh well such is the price of keeping a blog while traveling in theater.  So currently Im writing this from the Tropicana, no, not the one in Las Vegas.  The temp housing at Kandahar has casino names, last time I was here I stayed in the MGM Grand. What’s happened in the past week?  A whole lot.

We finally got out of Bagram last week on a flight late Saturday, or early Sunday, I think.  We didn’t end up flying till sometime in the wee hours of the morning, so we got to Kandahar in the middle of the night.  Luckily we got a ride from the inbound terminal to a different ramp at the airfield where we would be able to get a flight out to Camp Leatherneck.  We ended up getting to the correct location at about 0330 and there were no flights till the morning so we found a dark waiting room and all just crashed in there on the wooden benches, believe it or not I actually slept really well.  The night morning started a little earlier than I would have liked but we managed to get some chow (the eggs in Kandahar are pretty bad..) and get onto a flight later that morning.  That flight went well, a little longer than expected, guess they took a different route or something.  Oh and we had some working dogs on the flight that were actually rather well behaved.  I was surprised how well they handled the flight. 

For those of you that don’t know Leatherneck is a Marine Corp base which is somewhat ironic since it is out in the middle of nowhere in the desert, nowhere near water.  What is it like?  Hot, Dry, and Dusty.  However I was rather impressed with the base as a whole.  It was a lot closer to my imagined notion of what a base would look like, very “clean” and organized, sprawling but a much more organized sprawl than say Bagram.  We were staying at the compound of some of the guys we were visiting which was actually really nice.  We were in the transient tent which was brand new, and right next door they had their own little MWR, so we ended up watching movies at night.  8mm movies.  Apparently the Navy hasn’t moved to DVDs and is still living in 8mm land.   The guys we stayed with were really cool and we had some very good conversations with them about gear related issues and what the science and technology community can do for them.  Good Stuff, hopefully I’ll get more chances to do that sort of thing.

Lots of walking around base, got some god PT in.  Actually the thing about the 110+ heat is that yeah it is hot, but you still almost get used to it.  You sweat and you drink a lot of water and try to stay inside as much as you can.  After a few days it is less bad.  Also once the sun starts to go down is cools off fairly decently.  It was down in the low 80s one night as I was walking back from my shower before bed, almost chilly. 

Leatherneck is actually only a portion of the base, the other half is the British compound, so while our day to day activities there didn’t include the Brits we did sneak over to their DFAC one night to get some good British grub. The Marine DFACs aren’t bad, they aren’t the best I’ve been to, more middle of the pack, however the British DFAC was pretty darn good.  Maybe it was just that everything was different than anything else I’d had?  I dunno but they had a really good beef stew w biscuits and the dessert bar had a ton of different goodies on it. 

If you don’t follow the Islamic calendar we happen to be in the middle of Ramadan at the moment.  Now normally this doesn’t mean much to the non Muslims in the crowd however if you’re in a country that is predominately Muslim that changes a bit.  First off everything done by local nationals slows down to a crawl or stops completely for the month.  This happens all over and is interesting how their culture just accepts and works around the decreased productivity of a period as long as this.  Also the call to prayer is a lot more prevalent at night than it is normally.

We had a pretty good visit to Leatherneck but of course we must continue on our journey.  Next stop is back to Kandahar for a few days.  We ended up getting to the outbound terminal a few hours earlier than we needed to so we ended up sitting around for 5ish hours.  The outbound terminal is on the British side so the tv had the British Equivalent of sports center going so after watching a loop of that I mostly read on my kindle and we talked to pass the time.  We also scored some MREs to snack on, those things keep getting better and better.  The one I got had Chocolate Peanut Butter in it.  Genius Idea.  Now we just need to see that on store shelves near you.  It was the middle of the night again when we got on to the flight, however flying back to Kandahar was significantly shorter than the trip out, not sure why, I barely had time to fall asleep before I had to wake up again.  Anyway we got to Kandahar some crazy time, probably about 0330 again, got to our temp rooms here and crashed.

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