I’ll try and update this post as I think of anything.
Well, Tera and I are finally out of tents and moved into our room. It’s pretty tiny (you could probably fit 4 single beds in sideways leaving no room to walk & barely open the door), but it’s not a tent and were together. It’s not the Hilton, but will be more than adequate to get us through this coming year. I saw my breath this morning, it’s starting to get a bit frosty around here. The tents had heaters, but still, I wouldn’t want to be stuck in a tent for the winter (they are tearing them down soon, unsurprisingly).
I just recovered from the
Kwaj Kabul Krud, and it looks like Tera is fighting it now. I’ve been hit with a flu or cold twice now, this is Tera’s first. Given the 38 hours of traveling the first time and finally getting acclimated to the local conditions I think we could be doing a lot worse.
Afghanis still haven’t quite mastered the art of indoor plumbing unfortunately. The frequent lack of traps in drains can lead to some less than pleasant smelling buildings/rooms. The toilets also flush down and to the front rather than down and to the back, which leaves them prone to skid marks.
The Afghanis I’ve met and pass every day are pretty friendly, or at least stoically indifferent, which I guess is the stereotype. Tera has been learning a few phrases in Dari, I’ll probably try and pick up some of the basic pleasantries myself here soon.
Work is pretty good and should be as rewarding as anywhere else I’ve been. I’ll be doing more or less the same thing I have been in the past, a little less systems engineering, more systems administration and actually a fair bit of Cisco/networking stuff.
APO to CONUS
Priority & First Class letters/cards:
- Addressed from 093XX locations: 6 Dec 06
Parcel Post / Space Available Mail (SAM):
- Addressed from 093XX locations: 19 Nov 06
CONUS to APO
Priority & First Class letters/cards:
- Addressed to 093XX locations: 4 Dec 06
Parcel Post / Space Available Mail (SAM):
- Addressed to 093XX locations: 13 Nov 06
India driving (video, don’t bother on dialup) Ok, granted that video is from India, but add in a couple donky pulled carts and some people crossing the street and it could be from here. Another one, it’s also pretty similar from a different point of view.
Lets just say I’m glad we get chaufered around by a crazy russian employed by ITT. I’m not sure I’d trust any sane person to drive around here. Every contractor vehicle is an 4×4 SUV of some kind. Most of the contractors seem to use something pretty similar to our Toyota Land Cruisers or Lexus, with some Suburbans thrown in for good measure by others. Yes, that means I get chaufered around in a luxery vehicle with an entertainment system in the back of the headrests. We don’t get outside the heavily secured area much, but occasionally have to head to one of the other bases in Kabul.
Most every vehicle over here is diesel, even the little toyota econoboxes. I’d love to be able to import a new Toyota Heliux diesel from here, but unfortunately wouldn’t be able to get it registered once I got it to the states. Some of the toyota mini-vans are even 4×4, wich as funny as it sounds make a lot of sense. Many logging roads I’ve seen are better than the paved main roads here.
Well, we’ve been here for a couple days now and are setteling in a bit. Still no word on housing, although somebody did tell us we’d be in permanant housing by the end of the month. After the shock of travel has worn off and this dam cold is nearly over things are deffinatly looking up. We still haven’t entirely gotten our bearings, but things are deffinately feeling better.
We finally caught a flight to Bagram, and then a Black Hawk to Kabul. My Leatherman pocketknife actually made on an airplane in my pocket. I think the fact that I had a pallet of 5.56mm ammo about 4 feet in front of me and about half the flight armed with M16′s or 9mm’s. Surprisingly I didn’t actually have my first “What the hell am I doing, what the hell did I get myself into” moment until we were about to take off in the the Black Hawk and the 2 door gunners were checking the mounts and readying their M249′s. Tera apparently had hers shortly after mine, when the gunners in her chopper (there were 2 choppers flying together) seemed to get interested in something.
I did get some great Afghanistan countryside photos though, I hope, I’ll post them when I get a chance (may be a bit until I get a personal ISP, can’t plug personal drives into the business computers).
I’m getting over a cold or the flu I think, it hit at the tail end of being up for 38 hours straight bouncing all over the place to Kabul. Needless to say I wasn’t too with it yesterday when we first got here. It’s mostly down to an annoying sniffle and sore throat now.
Tera and I are still in tents in slightly different locations, but hopefully should be assigned a dual occupancy room or something very shortly. We’ve spent most of the day doing the usual in-processing bureaucracy and are finally starting to get things figured out.
As you may or may not know, Tera was hired as a Switchboard Operator (Telephone Operator). However, apparently the switchboard she’s suppose to operate in Bagram won’t be installed for 6 months or so. In the mean time she will be working on the HelpDesk, and is probably the reason were both assigned to Kabul instead of Bagram. I think she’ll be moved back up to Bagram if/when the switch gets installed, and I’ll follow when there’s an open position. Positions apparently come open reasonably frequently given the unsurprisingly high attrition rate of working over here.
In other news, we have an address now:
Devin Noel (or Tera Noel if your sending stuff to her)
It also looks like I get a cell phone tomorrow (they need to acquire another one for Tera which may take a bit). Hopefully I’ll be able to make it onto the WiFi access that’s near my House/tent, but that may take a few days.
We finally got our corrected orders yesterday, and headed over to Ali Al Salem. Upon our arrival, we found out that checkin for the flight to Bagram started in 10 minutes, perfect timing after nearly a week of waiting. Well after schleping all our bags in, we heard a nice announcment come over the intercom saying our plane decided to go elsewhere.
The tents here are MUCH more crowded, but have marginally better A/C and a cement floor. Facilities are crowded, and I didn’t get hardly any sleep due to needing to get up at O’ dark hundred to check on the flight for today (which promptly got canceled just after dawn), and all the traffic through the tent and vehicles schleping gear around at all hours.
The only upside is I probably get to see Heather tomorow as she pulls into Kuwait from Kwaj (Although given the fact I partially instigated her comming here and the CRC/travel sucks, that might not be such a good idea :-p). She’s lucky, she’ll be working here in Kuwait and is mostly done traveling, I have a ways to go still. One of the guys in the bunk finally got his flight after waiting 5 days.
Some of the other ITT people I encountered apparently know my soon to be supervisor (who’s name I don’t remember) and said he’s a really good guy, which is always positive news.
Camp Arifjan, Kuwait photos
No, that’s not a terorist, that’s merely a crazy Puertorican co-worker.
Next Page »
Still no new orders, so were still sitting here at Arifjan waiting to go to Ali Al Salem to get ready to get on flights from which we’ll get bumped by active military personnel. Wind has picked up today and it’s getting really dusty. I can only imagine what these dust storms I hear about are like.
Talked to an ITT guy from Kabul today who’s on base for training. Apparently Bagram and Kabul are about the same for quality of life, but he likes Kabul a bit better. Hour convoy or 15 minute chopper flight from Bagram to Kabul, no clue which one we’ll get.
Â Got a hit from a Raytheon head hunter for PKI stuff in Iraq… well over a quarter mil a year. I’d be sorely tempted on that, but I just signed on with ITT and am not one to bail on a contract, not to mention I’d probably end up seperated from Tera for a year.
Internet options here at Arifjan for us at the moment seems to be $5 and hour to plug my laptop in for good bandwith, or use the heavily locked down PC’s at the MWR facilities with not so snappy bandwith for free. Mostly using the free stuff for now.
Chow is ok, little better variety than I initially thought. It does seem to give everybody rank nasty gas though.
Everybody is really bored and just wants to get to where were going and get settled. Packing and un-packing every day with all the false starts is annoying. At least we get paid for all this. And speaking of getting paid, the first pay check with the sign on bonus just showed up in my account, nice.
Both Tera and my smallpox vacinations are starting to blister and get really annoying and itchy (as expected), hope they run their course quickly.
I’ve got some Arifjan & tent photos, but due to the afore mentioned free vs. paid internet access I really can’t upload them at the moment, but will as soon as I can.
Whelp, I think I’ve rambled on out of boredom enough. If you’ve made it this far, your either very bored yourself or related to me. :-p