Friday, March 25, 2011

March 25 19:50

The jingle truck is named for the sound they make when driving down the road. I think they are one of the most colorful sights in Afghanistan. These are the middle east version of pimp my ride, the owners take a lot of pride in their trucks. This one is fairly simple but I liked it because of the plastic flowers on the antennas. They are often adorned with elaborate paintings and or welded and cut metalwork appearing over the entire truck and trailer. Lengths of chain often dangle vehicle length down to the ground resembling one of those carpet sweepers at the Westminster kennel show. Often the interiors are pasted with pictures of pretty girls and religious ornaments. Photographing these jems is my new pasttime.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March 24 20:30

Sunrise at BAF. Overnight temperatures are generally around the mid 50's. This peaceful scene belies the nights at LSA7. Prevailing winds send runway noise right to my door. Jet afterburners create the kind of noise you hear at every air show. Testing and maintenance can happen at 3am with engines running wide open for 30 minutes. Steel conex housing shakes, earplugs do nothing. I have the same reaction every time, wtf is going on/where am I. It is hard to get used to. Several friends have been sent downrange, I miss them and will likely never see them again. Our returns to BAF for RR will not coincide.

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21 19:00

Booth at bazaar. Locals sell handmade products including scarfs, rugs, linen, leather, wood crafts, semi precious stones, and jewelry. Lapis stone is only found in Afghanistan and is used to make intricately designed bowls, jewelry and decorative items. The export market for Afghan goods has largely collapsed since the Taliban's rise and fall. Most Afghan goods are exempt from duty in an effort to promote and support the small businessmen, their families, and the network of craftsmen that create the goods.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 20 10:00

It looked like a parking strip.  You can barely make out the man in the back seat, he is calling the wrecker.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March 12, 19:20

Another sunny day at BAF. The temperatures continue to climb each day. Today it was near 80 and I am finding out just how intense the sun can be in this country. Monday I would have compared it to Palm Springs in March, today it felt more like eastern Washington in July with the sun giving off the kind of heat that warms to the bone, all day. In three days it has provided the kind of tan I would normally expect to get over the course of weeks even though I apply spf 40 regularly during the day.  I am unaccustomed to this weather, and the hardest part is that I can't help but feel I should be out boating with the girls. Warm weather means summer and time off. The sun goes behind the mountains at 5:30.
       Ken, Sgt Terstriep and I continue to sort and load materials destined for TFI teams around the country. The LOGCAP yard is the Army's main receiving area where materials are brought on Air Force pallets right off  C130 freighters. I really enjoy working with Ken and Sgt Terstriep, they are fun and funny and the days go by quickly.
      I was told that my future partner is John Goodwin. John is a nice guy and is here from Alabama. He is a Vietnam Vet with a good sense of humor. He sounds like Thornton's character in Sling Blade. We could not have less in common and I am not sure how this pairing will work. It's Saturday night and we are all looking forward to a day off tomorrow, tonites movie is Smokie and the bandit.

Monday, March 7, 2011

March 7 21:20

A row of BHUTS used by the Army for housing. These wood structures are coated with a spray on polyurethane foam from top to bottom for water resistance and insulation. Probably built by the Soviets during their occupation. Continued cold this week with highs in the low 40's rain and lows just above freezing. Lunch at the Dragon DEFAC was disrupted by Sec. Gates visit to the base. A long term presence was discussed and it is expected that the US will remain long after the 2014 July drawdown. Fighting in the Helmand province is intense. It seems unlikely that the average American really knows what is really happening over here. Roadside bombings are on the increase and Taliban fighters from Pakistan continue to cross over to attack US and allied troops during spring offensives.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March 1 19:30

One of the four or five bird species I see on base include these small doves. I am not a birder so these are my own observations. In addition to the doves, I see what appears to be a member of the starling family, brown in color with a distinctive white stripe on the wing. Also, magpies and chickadees are plentiful, and, I have seen the occasional raptor circling up high. I spotted a cat the other day skulking around the base and there is evidence of mice on the lower floor. Beyond that, there is little life outside of humans. Dogs, if they make it onto the base are generally shot, they are either part of a broken pack or have accidently made it through the wall. I have seen two spiders since my arrival, several flies, but no ants or other crawlers. Sunday, I found a small patch of grass and a half a dozen broadleaf but other than that, very little green. The surfaces on base are either -3" crushed rock, asphalt, mud, or one of the few sidewalks. I hope to see more once I move beyond these walls. Am told that the flies in western Afghanistan number in the trillions and that most live in the outhouses. I hope to go north from here.