Thursday, July 19, 2007

Kandahar - Part I

Since my narration of our trip to MES was one long entry and knowing how some of you out there don't like my long narratives, I'm breaking our trip to Kandahar up into segments. Here's the first part.

I was only back at Phoenix for 15 hours before I had to turn around and head back to KAIA. Because there were a couple of people who had an early flight, I had to meet the convoy at 0500 even though my own flight wasn’t until 1330. I hate getting up that early but had little choice. So at 0530 I was sitting outside the passenger terminal, asleep, waiting for my plane.

After I dozed for almost two hours I went and had breakfast at the DFAC (dining facility). It’s always a treat as it’s very European in it’s cuisine, which is only natural since it’s an international task force here. There were the traditional American dishes, cold cereal and such but what made it different was the hot milk that was bubbling in a crock pot that they put on their cereal, dip their bread, muffins, toast, etc. in. If you didn’t want your cereal milk hot then you got it room temperature as the milk was just sitting out. Lots of cheese and thinly sliced meat – prosciutto (sp). I love the cheese but was surprised to see bleu cheese out. I love bleu cheese and took some but it seemed weird to be eating it for breakfast. Lots of good hard bread, croissants and other rolls. It was great.

The bazaar was here today and in some people’s minds it is legendary. I must admit that there were lots of shops but they were mostly the same; watches, DVD’s, gemstones, scarves and wooden boxes. In other words nothing new. It’s always fun to walk through though and try and find something different.

Nick had spent the night here so I stowed my stuff in his room. It was a lot like mine at Phoenix; double connex with a couple of bunk beds. The “nice” thing was that it was in the heart of Croatia’s and Sweden’s billeting – lots of eye candy. I’ll leave it at that.

Again it was no surprise but there’s quite the international feel here. The other coalitions have no prohibition against drinking and fraternizing so lots of that going on. Each country has its own “watering hole” where drinks are served. Even though I’m not a drinker they looked like fun places to hang out. It made me wonder if our soldiers wouldn’t be less stressed if we had more places like that on our own posts, someplace where soldiers could gather and just hang out. Don’t get me wrong, each base has developed its own place but nothing with the, oh what’s the word I’m looking for, charm maybe, of what I saw here.

The other European cultural phenomenon I witnessed was the clothing culture, or lack thereof. Because our first flight was canceled and the next one was not until 2200 hours we had lots of time to spend back at Nick’s room. We sat outside which happened to be next to the showers. I was amazed at how the men and women would simply walk around in their underwear. There was even a couple of guys that came outside to smoke in t-shirts and very skimpy underwear. I was a little taken aback but remembered that these same guys probably go to the beach in even less. It was interesting.

As I said, our first flight was canceled so by the time I fly out of KAIA I’ll have been here for almost 17 hours. I’m not sure it was better than spending the day at Phoenix but at least I was away from the office.

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