(NOTE: As usual, photo's aren't loading very well. I'll try and download the last one later. So check back.)
While at Eggers last week (and yesterday – more to follow on that visit) I lived in the “dungeon” with my buddy Paul Waldron.
Let me explain. At Eggers, there is not enough housing for all the personnel that work on that base. Eggers is where the “important” people work. Camp Eggers is basically several city blocks in Kabul that have been rented to form the headquarters. What that means is that all the houses and other buildings have been turned into work spaces and limited living accommodations. They’ve brought in other buildings, obviously, but the compound is essentially former homes and businesses.
Trying to find some of the offices is quite an adventure. You have to wind your way literally through alleys, crossing through gardens, up and down stairs, just to find your destination. I had been to the JAG office once, with a guide. I later tried to find it but couldn’t so had to have them draw me a map for this visit. Without the map I would have been lost.
(Yes, I’m working my way to the dungeon.)
As I said, not everyone that works there lives there. I’m sure a large percentage of the folks live off base in the “safe houses.” (Can’t tell you where they are or else they wouldn’t be “safe.”) What I can say is that like Eggers, blocks of the city were rented and the houses used for living accommodations of the Eggers personnel.
To get “home” you have to don your IBA, walk forever to where the shuttle picks you up and then ride the secret number of minutes to get “home.” I use that term, “home,” loosely.
The house I lived in was called the Pink House. Here it is. Actually, it’s the front gate with me and the guard out front.
The next one is me in front of the sign. See, it does say “Pink House.”
And here I am in the dungeon. Paul didn’t take very good pictures of me. Oh well. He’s just a Major so what do you expect.
We lived in the basement. It was dark and cold. And the walls were made of stone set in cement. I hope you can get a feel for what it was like. At night the walls sent out waves of cold. I imagine in the summer it’s pretty nice but in the winter, it was pretty chilly.
Where’s the bathroom you ask? It’s up the “outside” stairs, around the corner and in through the front door. (Be careful of the ice on the first step.) It makes you think twice about getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. The bathrooms are leftover from the originally home. There’s three of them which was nice. One was huge. But it was also freezing. The only heat was from a small radiator which means it didn’t heat the room at all. I was looking forward to the hot water to offset the cold in the bathroom. Silly me! The water barely came out so it was actually colder to take a shower as the water only made the room seem colder. (Excuse this next thought, but anybody see the Seinfeld episode where George yells out, “I was in the pool! I was in the pool!” I’ll leave it at that.)
The next bathroom was a little smaller so wasn’t quite as cold when you first walked in. However, there was even less water that dribbled out of the shower head. I was afraid I wouldn’t get all the soap out of my hair. And of course, it was even colder to take a hot shower than the first bathroom.
The final bathroom was the coveted one. I discovered why it was always occupied when I went to shower. It was relatively warm, it had it’s own water heater and actually had water pressure. Unfortunately I got in that bathroom on the last morning so had to suffer through the others. Oh well.
This is how some people live for their whole tours. I can’t imagine living in the “dungeon” for very long. I think if I had to do it, I would cover the walls with something just so I don’t have to look at the stone. If I didn’t, I think I’d go crazy.
It makes me so grateful for my “opium den.” (Browse through previous posts for a description of my room.) To get to the bathroom, it’s a minor stroll down the hall, the hall that’s actually inside, to a brightly lit, warm, tons of hot water, bathroom.
I’ve decided that I live in the best accommodations in all of Afghanistan, at least for a soldier.