Tuesday, July 7, 2009

First stop in Afghanistan

Well Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore...

After all the time I spent in Kansas, I had to finally make a Wizard of Oz quote. I have lost track of days after all the traveling, but I am still not to my final destination. I am currently in Afghanistan, at Bagram Air Base awaiting a flight for the next leg of my journey.

The trip from Kuwait began on Saturday night and ended on Sunday morning. It was an all night evolution. We started around 2000 with staging our bags by our tents. When the truck got there at 2030, we loaded up our bags then got on the bus for the quick bus ride from Camp Virginia back to Ali Al Salem. Of course, we waited around multiple hours. Around 2345, we unloaded our bags from the truck onto a pallet for the flight. We waited another good hour and finally boarded a bus out to the flight line. We finally boarded the C-117 around 0130. I was one of the lucky ones and sat on a jump seat along the sides of the plane instead of being packed in the passenger like seats in the middle. I am a wide person, especially with body armor on, so I was more comfortable in the jump seat. Once we took off, it was a little over a 3 ½ hour flight to Bagram. I, like most people, was able to nap on the flight. We got to Bagram around 0730 local time. I am now in the Afghanistan time zone, which is 8 ½ hours ahead of eastern time.

Of course it took us over an hour to get off the plane and through the inprocessing so we missed breakfast. We had to unload our bags off the pallet onto a truck then board a bus to our current tent. It is a transient tent. Everyone here is waiting on flights to their next destination in Afghanistan. All the bottom bunks were taken, so we got top bunks including all the O-5s in the group. Rank has very little to do with where you sleep in Bagram. Most of the bottom bunks are occupied by lower ranking enlisted Army and Air Force with senior Navy on the top bunks. Got to love how things work in Afghanistan. It is first come, first served for most everything.

I stayed up the rest of the day so I could get a long night of sleep. I ate supper at 1700 and was in bed by 1800. I woke up around 2330, but took an ambien to get back to sleep. I slept until 0500, almost 11 hours of sleep. It was much needed sleep and I am almost used to the time difference.

At least it is 30 degrees cooler here with highs only in the low 90s. The evening temps dip down into the 60s. The air quality is surprisingly poor here with dust and pollution. The local water is also unsafe to drink so everything is bottled water even brushing teeth. The showers have clean potable water, but it is still unsafe to drink. Safe for washing, but not safe for drinking.

I don’t have anything to do except wait for a flight. I have walked around the base with some of the other sailors. We can only go to the PX so many times. There are several MWR buildings where we can watch movies, make phone calls and use the computer. The internet is too slow to upload pictures but I can at least update the blog.

There is no self-service laundry here, only drop off laundry with a 72 hour turn around. That is too long for my laundry as we could leave at any time. Instead, I washed some clothes in the shower today and have them drying on my rack on hangers. Eventually, I will be able to get some real laundry done.

I seem to be rambling on and on…maybe I am not as used to the time zone as I think I am. I will post another update when I can….

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