John' been sending me emails that include tidbits of what he loves and hates about being in Afghanistan... so, on this independence day...the 4th of July I thought I'd let my soldier have an opportunity for free speech...
I love the fact that I am on a post where lights are prohibited. We are supposed to limit the use of flashlights, drive with our lights off, and there are no white lights on the buildings (just some with red lights). As a result, the stars really shine and it is like looking at the sky when you are in the country with no city lights around for miles. I have been enjoying walks at night, using the light of the moon as my flash light and just wandering among the stars.
I hate the fact that the local nationals get to use the same toilets that I do. You have some experience with the way some other cultures use the toilets (Italians - Swiss, etc.) but the Afghanis are the worst. First, they stand on the toilet seat, do their thing, then use a bottle of water, they spray their bum off and rub it "clean" with their hand. They splash their poop water all over the seat and floor. Then they walk out, wash their hands and leave.. No cleaning the seat, no flushing, nothing.. It is DISGUSTING. I would rather use the porta-potties (which are also gross, but only in the ordinary way that porta-potties are usually gross).
I love the fact that it is so informal here. Captains and Lieutenants are calling me by my first name and I am able to call them by theirs. I have pretty good, meaningful conversations with Chief K and Captain S about personal things. I think that my experience here will allow me to develop some lasting relationships with people that will hold some special place in my makeup. I hope that I can make a friend or two as well.
I hate the drama. Oh my gosh.. There have been several investigations already. Is thissleeping with this LT..? Is this Captain trying to kill this other Captain..? Is this person being discriminated against because of her ethnicity..? Is this person criminally liable because he unscrewed the locked hasp of another person's room in order to get to the thermostat controls..? Not only that, but we have the drama just assorted with the people we meet with on a regular basis. SHEESH..!
I love the fact that I have air conditioning, hot showers, flushing toilets (see above for the one caveat), hot meals, internet, and no attacks on this FOB in the last 8 months or so. I love the fact that I can get from one side of the FOB to the other in 6 minutes.
I hate the fact that I can't just go to the bazaar and mingle with the local population. I hate that it isn't safe to be an American in Qalat. I hate that we have to put on our suits of armor in order to go across the street.
I love that the Canadians play roller hockey every evening and that the line to Horton's coffee wraps around the boardwalk. I love that A-10 aircraft, and other assorted fast movers and rotary aircraft zoom around the air space here.
I hate the extra 10 degrees that sits on my back like a winter cloak. I hate the heavy, unyielding smell of excrement. I hate the dust that is everywhere - on my clothes, in my bedding, in my nose and throat.
I love you...
Happy 4th of July!