Wednesday, 24 April 2013

24 hours in Afghanistan and already we've had dinner parties and natural disasters!

We arrived around 6am the morning of Tuesday the 23rd, after flying over night from Kuwait, first to Kandahar and then on to Bagram. After arriving we did some necessary admin errands and then got checked into our billeting to catch a few hours of sleep. I came into the office around 4pm to work as much of my shifts as possible. Our shifts are constantly fluctuating at the moment, trying to find a good fit for the team. I know for certain I will be working the night shift, but we have nailed down a good fit yet.

We are located in one of the only standing Russian buildings located on base, fondly known as Motel 8. There are several other offices in this building with us and our first evening here, the officers and higher enlisted in the building held a huge dinner party in honor of our transition. They set up a series of 6 foot tables down the one long second floor hallway, covered them with white table clothes and transformed the hallway into a banquet hall. They served steak and lobster and by all accounts was a four star dinner party by Afghan standards. They even had the French doors open at the end of the hall, with the facade of the Hindu Kush mountains in the backdrop, marked by the most electric streaks of lightening.

After my shift last night, I came back and crashed and had to be up "early" (the middle of my night) at 9am to take the mail class - yes, you have to take a class out here to pick up mail ;-) After mastering the mail, I came back to my bHut to catch a few more hours of sleep, but that was not to happen. First, there was a controlled detonation, signaled first by the amplified voice that presides of the base, then the boom of the detonation a few minutes later. Then sometime after I was woken up by a roommate coming back to the BHut. I room with 3 other women and I am the only day sleeper. THEN I am awoken a third time by 10 seconds of constant shaking, the walls jittering back and forth and my waiting for the "Incoming" alarm. But nothing sounded and turns out there was a deadly earthquake in Jalabad today, felt as far away as India!

So needless to say the first 24 hours in Afghanistan have been pretty traditional, the earth shakes, you follow procedures that don't always make sense and people are wonderfully hospitable.

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