Okay……so I lied about the rain. In the past week it has rained 4 days straight and caused major flooding in some areas. Some of the checkpoints are flooded with rushing water, and Afghans still think they can drive right through it with their little sedans. The mud is ridiculous and there are leaks in just about every room on the fob. By the way in Afghanistan you don’t need a license to drive so pretty much everyone drives like it’s the fast and the furious down here, which makes some situations kind of stressful.
I also found out I can’t use phone cards here. The MWR runs an online credit system and the Roshan cell phone I just got doesn’t take US phone cards either. They take Roshan cards which is an Afghan network. I figured out how to call the states and with my Dad’s help we found out how the states can call me.
In the past week though I have been able to get into somewhat a little better of a rhythm here. It’s hard to set a schedule because operations here change so often.
This past week there was again a lot of stuff that went on. I went to another range and zeroed my new weapon, which was the first time I used an optical sight to aim…pretty cool actually.
I have been able to utilize the gym on a more regular basis now. Since basically my daily routine after I finish my workload for the day consists of reading, going to the gym, and the internet. I mean I have facebook what else do I need. The gym is basically a big tent about 30 yards long with a plywood floor and walls that section areas off for different machines/equipment. I have recently picked up rowing. It’s something new and I think it’s a great workout with what’s available.
The chapel here is pretty simple, if I don’t have a mission or something vital that other people need from me I make sure I’m going to mass on Sundays. It’s hard to keep track of what day of the week it is because everyone is constantly going throughout the week. One thing that helps me are the meetings I have on certain days of the week and church on Sundays.
The Super Bowl! Well being from Pittsburgh I almost felt obligated to watch it. So I went to bed early the night before and got up at 330am to watch the game. They had it on in the DFAC (cafeteria) and actually decorated for the event. There were about 60 -70 people that woke up for the big game too. They had ordered something like 1000 pizzas……needless to say they had extras. But I would like to make it clear that if you heard of any news of all soldiers will get the chance to have two beers…..That was a lie! The only beer they had were O’ Douls……I mean come on that’s like drinking cough medicine because you like the taste……..If you don’t know what O’ Douls are they are non-alcoholic beer that tastes “like beer” but not really. Apparently soldiers in Iraq did get the beer but as far as the Kandahar province, Afghanistan goes it was nothing but O’ Douls for us. I did enjoy the game though even though the Steelers came up short I thought it was still a good game. One thing that really stood out was the fact that they had Staff Sergeant Giunta the recent recipient who earned the Medal of Honor. I think that’s great how an America Hero is welcomed like that and what better than the most watched event of the year.
Something else also happened during the game, I saw a face that looked strangely familiar, no one that I knew on a personal level but had one of those faces that I have seen before. I went up the guy and asked if he had graduated from Virginia Tech, and have you know it turns out he a was about three years ahead of me in the Corps of Cadets there. Just yesterday I actually met another Hokie that graduated in 99 who is here as a contractor and helps with operations. Small word, there really are Hokies everywhere and I feel a great sense of pride coming from Virginia Tech. Even back home whenever I see a VT sticker on a car, or a T-shirt, its almost like I want to wave them down and meet them, or speed up to see if I know them. I love being a Hokie!
This past week has been a lot of firsts, some good, some not so good. There is a lot that goes on in Afghanistan and I’m sure I’ve only experienced a very minute part of it. I have been out on the road and outside the wire a lot more which is something I really enjoy, with that though you get to see a lot more. I really love seeing the culture and our “American/NATO” mission at work. While out and about I did see my first camel, or actually I should say herd of camels. It was pretty cool actually I saw one and just thought to myself…did I just see a camel!? Then I saw the rest of the herd…it was awesome I just wish I had my camera with me.
Another first was my first experience with an IED (Improvised Explosive Device), I can’t go into too much detail about it, but basically some Afghans found it and stopped our convoy so we didn’t hit it. After a couple hours EOD (American forces that take care of explosive materials) came blew it up and then we were on our way again continuing the mission…..it was actually kind of cool to see. The real crazy part was after our mission I went back to talk to the other Lieutenant in charge of EOD and he showed me what was recovered from the failed IED. There was a ball bearing the size of a golf ball along with some other components……..yeah.
The activity here is still relativity low while the cold/wet weather still lingers around. So its good to see the Afghan National Army and Afghan Police are eager to make their country a better place now and hopefully they will keep that attitude as the weather gets warmer and the activity picks up.
I’m doing my best at trying to learn Pashto, which is the main language in Southern Afghanistan. Our interpreter is pretty cool, he’s a couple years older than me and a really awesome guy who is helping us out a lot. Over all the activity right now is very low during the cold months, but certain events are still happening and if you follow the news anything within the Kandahar area/ Spin Boldak pertains to some of my unit…..So follow the news!
Thank you for all the support it really means a lot to me, I can’t thank you all enough! Whenever I get an email or facebook message it really makes my day. So thank you! I’ll hopefully be posting some pictures soon.