Notes from Afghanistan – June 14, 2007

June 14, 2007

I’m not going to bore you with the frustrating and traumatic details of our trip over to Afghanistan. Suffice it to say British Air lost one of our key equipment cases and broke our brand new camera… snapped the lens right off! The airline has still not found the case and Tim is still weeping over the loss of his new baby. Honestly, it took 2 years to get the new rig… and just one day to take it away again.

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After all of that, you’d think we’d have some good luck thrown our way? Not so much. We arrived in Kandahar EARLY Wednesday morning. Flying in, everything looked the same as it did on our previous visits. When the airline staff opened the doors to plane, though, we realized things were very different. Almost immediately, every ounce of liquid in our bodies felt the need to run away. We were soaked by the time our feet hit the tarmac. The clock had barely struck 9am and the temperature had already shot past 40 degrees.

We grabbed all of our gear, minus the one case that is currently vacationing in much cooler climates without us, and marched to the complete opposite end of the airfield. Soaked and breathless, Tim and I met the crew we’re replacing. Jas and Jeff looked so excited. Not so much to see us, but to see the plane that was about to whisk them away. They almost tried not to smile too much when they told us the power had gone out and our sleeping tents had no air conditioning. Nice. I hoped it was a cruel “welcome to Kandahar” joke. It wasn’t. After dropping off our personal gear at our sauna like tent we escaped to our work space which, thankfully, was still being gently kissed by the angelic like air conditioner. It was heaven.

The internet was down but we didn’t care. It was cool. There was little time to relax, though. A ramp ceremony had been planned for 7:30pm for the young soldier killed late Monday in an IED attack. Problems with the Hercules aircraft, scheduled to transport Trooper Darryl Caswell back home, delayed the ceremony until 1am. By then, the air had cooled significantly. I doubt the soldiers cared. They would have stood in any kind of weather to offer their respect for their fallen friend. That’s the type of family I’ve discovered the military to be.

The ceremony took less than 30 minutes. We went back to the tent to file and feed. By the time everything was done, it was close to 3am. Word from the tent line was that the air conditioning was back on. We closed up the work space and headed off to bed. The air conditioning felt great. At one point in the middle of the night I actually thought I could use another blanket. 2 hours later, as the sun woke up, so did I… soaked. Who needs an alarm clock when a pool of sweat will accomplish the same thing.

After a quick breakfast, it was back to the work tent. I checked the thermometer in our compound. 70 degrees Celsius!!! I’m sure that wasn’t the actual air temperature… but it was the temperature the thermometer measured in a small area right outside where we work. Any way you look at it, it’s hot… and the military is quick to point out… summer hasn’t even started yet!