Kandahar is just as hot as I thought it would be. I think it’s been around 105+ degrees every day. It can get up to 115 and even hotter but fortunately it hasn’t gotten there yet.
Our first day of class as I was proposing the schedule, which included afternoon sessions, the Afghans immediately protested. They said that they would rather start early and end by noon to avoid the heat in the class room. This week we’re teaching in ANA land so the buildings have no AC. So it was agreed that we would start at 0700 every day and end by noon. It’s actually worked out OK. Granted the afternoons can get a little long with not a lot to do but so far we’ve filled them with they gym, “force regeneration” and strolling along the boardwalk.
Here on Camp Hero there is a huge area that is surrounded by a covered boardwalk. In the center is a soccer field, small roller-blade arena, and volleyball pit. On the boardwalk are various fast-food places; a Canadian donut shop - "Tim Hortons" aka "deadman's donuts", Korean snack bar, Pizza Hut, Subway, and Burger King. There are also several Afghan shops selling various items, a sew shop, embroidery shop as well as a restaurant just off the boardwalk. It’s actually pretty nice.
The base even has it’s own waste reclamation plant. The first night we were here I asked Paul what that terrible smell was and he said it was the “poo pond” or “bamboo pond.” It’s the water/waste reclamation plant that has bamboo growing in it and it’s about 100 yards or so down the road from his room – where we’re staying. He offered to take us down to see it but of course we declined. The smell was enough of a tour.
This part of the country is the “hot spot” in terms of Taliban fighting. This is the area where Scott Lundell was killed, where road side bombs are a regular occurrence as well as small arms fire. Paul says that when they first got here there were regular rockets being fired over the camp but none that actually landed inside the wire. He says that they will get high ranking officers down here routinely so that they can say that they’ve been where all the fighting is, despite not going outside the wire, so now I too can say that I’ve been down here where all the fighting is taking place. Actually I have never gone outside the wire so haven’t really been in any danger and so far no rockets have flown overhead so in reality my time spent in the danger zone has been rather quiet.
This was one of the last areas where the Taliban were and because of the airfield here it was heavily bombed. You can still see bombed buildings as well as craters in the road. Paul keeps meaning to point out one of the last buildings they occupied but hasn’t and I’ve forgotten to ask. Maybe tomorrow.
Kandahar itself is flat and barren. I’m sure there are fields somewhere but I haven’t seen any. The wind has been blowing so a fine dust is always in the air. It lends a distinct haze to the horizon as well as wrecks havoc with my eyes and throat.
KAF (Kandahar Air Field) is made up of coalition forces. The predominant countries here are Canada, Britain, and Denmark – the “Tri-Lat” (tri-lateral). Other countries that are represented here are Australia, German, Danish, Romanian, Bulgarian, French, Jordanians, Czechs, Portugese, Spanish, Italians, Belgians, Polish, and Paul can’t remember any more. So you can see it’s very much a coalition down here. Once again the coalition DEFACs (dining facilities) are very European. I’ve loved the bread and cheese and have eaten more than I should but it’s so good and nothing like we can get at Phoenix.
KAF is a hug base, despite what Paul says. The drive to ANA land takes almost 15 minutes, but to be honest, a lot of that is due to really bad roads. The gym, MWR (morale, welfare and recreation – phones, computers, game/movie room, etc.) and boardwalk are all centrally located. The PX is a little bit of a walk but not too bad. It’s a much more pleasant experience here than at Bagram Air Field (BAF).
Well that’s about it for Kandahar. It’s late so when I read this tomorrow I might think of other things to talk about but for now that’s it.
Tomorrow is our last day of class and graduation. The SJA down here has invited us to his office for lunch and Paul says it will be delicious – naan (bread), rice, kabobs, pudding, watermelon and a few other things so I’ll definitely have something to write about then.