Saturday, November 30, 2013

One more day here

I got an email from a brother in Montana. He thinks I can write a book. I cannot imagine if anyone is interested in what I have to say. I got Thursday off, and worked on Friday. And Saturday. someone left our barracks, and he left behind a blanket. I am using it. The barracks is OK, I guess. at least it is quiet. My typical day. The barracks get noisy about 0630. men starting to wake up .I get up around 0700am. I get a shower every two days. The weather is cool, and showering every day is not necessary. The water in the shower is good enough. It is disenfected, but not "potable". You should not get any in your mouth, so that makes singing in the shower not advisable. I dress, and go to the chow hall. The food is good, you eat on cardboard with plastic forks. I try to get a bowl of cereal sometimes. The chow hall has UHT milk. I was first introduced to UHT milk, when I lived in Germany 1976. I wish I could get UHT milk in the USA. but it is illegal in most places. The "terps" call in on the cell phone about 0800am. I have to go to the front gate, and meet the three men. Then I must escort them through security. Then are patted down, and x-rayed, and the metal detector wand is used. Then they must do the retinal scan. I take them to the office. more later.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving day at Eggers

Greetings all! I got up today, as usual. Then I ate a small breakfast. I actually forgot it was Thanksgiving day. At the chow hall, we had an excellent feast. A two-star General officer was on the serving line, dishing out mashed potatoes. I get today off, and then I will work tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Two weeks at Eggers

I have been here two weeks. (not counting the week I was away at Forward Operating Base Shank). The base is small, and easy to get around. There is no ATM and no way to get any paper money. I had my wife send me some cash in the US Mail. The food is about the same as usual. Greasy, industrial-grade institutional food. I was so tense last afternoon, that eating was impossible. And this morning, breakfast was out of the question. I went to the chow hall for lunch, and happily there was barbequed chicken, which was excellent. I also had a poorly made beef enchilada, and some chili. I have eaten so much chili in my 9 years here, that I could float a boat with the stuff. Also cookie and cream Ice Cream, bravo. I got a couple of talking books, and I will now listen to the story of Bunker Hill. By 800pm, I am exhausted, and then I just crawl into the bed and sleep very soundly. Then at 0300am I wake up, and it is difficult to go back to sleep. At 0800am, I go to the front gate, and pick up the interpreters.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bombing today

There was a bombing today near where I am in Kabul. I did not hear it. But my firm did a "roll call" to account for all of us. Next week there will be a "Loya Jirga". This is a conference , or "rendezvous", when tribal chiefs from all over the country will meet to "pow wow" with each other. We can expect more terrorism , and more bombings, during the conference. We shall see.

Pressing on..

There is no Masonic lodge here at Camp Eggers. The Camp is closing, and the military and civilian personnel will be relocated. I will move to Camp Phoenix.. I have been in contact with a man who is in Texas, and we might possibly get a military lodge underway in Camp Phoenix. I have had some illness here, the usual traveller's discomfort. Just must keep running to the men's room . We do have an informal Masonic assembly here. I met some of the men last night, we had a short discussion. Since there is no lodge here, I need not be concerned about the possibility of attending a "clandestine" lodge.

Monday, November 11, 2013

two weeks at the roof of the world

I have been here for two weeks. Afghanistan does not change. After the Americans (and other nations depart) it will go back to being a primitive country, ruled by the war-lords. Democracy will not take root here, this is not South Korea. I returned from my first road trip (on this project). I did not get a chance to shower for over a week. When I got back to my barracks, I took the mother of all showers, and scrubbed myself down to the raw skin. Unhappily, I still have the traveler's discomfort. Five trips to the toilet every day. The food never changes here! The same boneless chicken, and tough beefsteaks, that I have been eating since 2004. All served on cardboard, and you eat with plastic forks. The breakfast is solid and greasy. Bacon and eggs, grits, frosted mini-wheats. The company issued me a cellphone. Cellphones in Afghanistan, do not have monthly plans like the USA. You have to buy minutes at the phone store. There is a "secret" number, that you must scratch off, then key that number into the phone. As you talk, the minutes go down, and then you go buy some more. I bought my own minutes, and the firm gave me some additional minutes. I forgot to take my phone charger with me, on the road trip, and the battery ran down. I bought a new charger for $10, so now I have a spare. I will know better, next time. Always bring a spare battery charger. I am continuing my in-processing. One thing I could really use is a spare laundry bag. The laundry office gives you a bag, with a serial number. You must fill the bag with your soiled laundry, and turn it in. You cannot use your own bag! And you can only have one bag. If I had a spare bag, I could "rotate" and have one in the laundry, and one in the barracks, and just exchange them. When I was at Kandahar, a lodge brother got me a spare bag, and I was able to obtain a third bag from some one else. I was able to turn the laundry around quickly! My barracks did not have any chairs. No place to sit down in my quarters. So I went to gym, and "appropriated" a chair, and took it to the room. Problem solved. Afghanistan is a dirty country. Soot, filth, pollution, etc. Today I saw a man sprinking water on the street with a water can, like you would water your garden with. Turns the dust to mud. This country is either a pile of dust or a lake of mud. And it is DRY here. Relative humidity very low, so my mouth and throat are always dry. And the elevation here in Kabul is about 7000 feet. So I am getting used to the thin air. Basically, Afghanistan SUX. But I would rather be working here , that unemployed back home.

Friday, November 08, 2013

First week in Afghanistan

I got my first week in Afghanistan. I am in an open-bay barracks, third floor. No privacy, not even a locker. I have to store my personal items on the top bunk. I got my first assignment, I had to fly to Logar province, Camp Petre. The base is a join USA/Romanian base. I had to do an assessment on 13 Afghans. I stayed in a barracks, the toilet next door, had no water, I flushed it with bottled water. I had to meet a ride, to drive 10 minutes to the chow hall. I finished the assessment, and then got a flight to Bagram. I am at the largest camp in Afghanistan. The chow hall is decent, but I have not obtained a room. I got in last night, and I slept in the waiting room.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Arrived at Camp Eggers, Afghanistan.

This has been a long trip. I was selected for the job in September. I flew to Atterbury, and when I arrived, I learned that I had no military ID. I had to fly back to Alexandria VA. Then I flew to Atterbury, and then on to Kuwait. I was sad that Ali Al Saleem has closed. It was an old friend, I flew through Ali many times in the past nine years . American contractors are now flying to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. We stay in tents, and then on to the destination. I stayed in a tent, and then I flew to Kandahar, Afghanistan . I spent 12 hours in the waiting room at Kandahar, and then I got a flight to KAIA, the civilian airport at Kabul, Afghanistan. I was lucky, and I got a room at the transient barracks, and the first hot shower I have had in 6 days. I checked in with my company, and I arranged to be picked up. The firm sent a driver, and I arrived at camp Eggers. I am now in the "swamp" a barracks. The dining hall is next door. I am only able to eat once in 24 hours, this is the worst case of jet lag, I have ever had.