Monday, May 24, 2010

Through the Windshield

It's not the worst way to see a country - through a windshield - but it certainly isn't the best. Most of the countries I have visited were safe enough to get out and walk around in. I like visiting markets, eating out at restaurants, chatting with people.
I am lucky that my job requires me to travel. The law that provides our raison d'etre requires four trips a year. I have done eight in the last six months and hope to do at least eight more.

Most often, I am in the back seat when not in Kabul. I am the "guest" of the forces whose job it is to work daily with the Afghan forces or to conduct patrols or (re) construction projects.
I envy them the ability to get "out of the wire" daily and interact with the people. I know it is tremendously frustrating at times for a US Army captain to "train" an Afghan Colonel, but can it be anymore frustrating than another powerpoint presentation?

So while I would prefer to drive, any trip outside of Camp Eggers is by definition a good one.


  1. I support your desire to get off-base. I was never much of a barracks rat when on active duty. I had the good fortune to live off base 1981-1982, in the old Rip Off Alley outside Incirlik AB. Things I remember about the experience: 1) Too much Efes beer. 2) Too many pistachios. 3) Dirty air due to nearby concrete plant (hard on contact lenses). 4) Too much Efes beer. 5) Delicious lentil soup and pita bread and Efes beer. 6) The nearby BP Gas Station and too much Efes beer. 8) Petting the stray cat with gloves on, due to epidemic rabies. 9) Being chased most days onto base on my bike by packs of rabid dogs--never bit, but my fatigues were bitten too often. The Turkish soldiers periodically threw out pieces of poisened meat to reduce the number of dogs. 10) B-52 sized cockroaches in my apartment 11) A toilet, sans a p-trap to stop the sewer smell, that periodically made the apartment stink really bad 12) Being advised that off-base GIs could be targetted by radicals and then having a firecracker go off outside my front door one time while eating my dinner. In a second I was on the floor, steak knife in hand, praying the bad guys were armed with spoons. 13) Too much Efes beer. 14) Good Turkish folks who liked to drink too much.

  2. That comment (stevebollman) is probably the funniest thing I ever read. I used to wish I was a boy so I could go to Ranger School or be a Marine...I would those things you experienced in Turkey very interesting. And I would definitely remember that with humor.

    And Andy has ALL my sympathy b/c I can't sit still in an office either - I would go nuts if I was in Army on a base and couldn't get out much! Especially if if I had the job of getting to run around looking at all the guns and being responsible for the old job.

    In fact recently had a full fledged hissy fit b/c the security guys I work with wouldn't let me go to Juarez for an assessment. They said it ha something to do with the fact that I'm 90 pounds, a girl, am not a Federal Agent and only a contractor, I have never been in a gang, never undercover, don't speak Spanish, and that people may try to kill me. I almost cried and said "You guys never let me do anything FUN!!"