Yesterday we rode in a convoy back to Bagram then hopped on a plane to Kandahar. Kandahar is farther south than the other bases we’ve been to and the daytime weather was in the 70’s so I was able to trade my heavy coat for my sarong and flip flops. I’m sure all the soldiers in their heavy gear hated me. I was given a driving tour of the base by some of the MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) folks. They’re the ones who organize the shows and are sort of stuck babysitting us while we’re on their base. The highlight of the tour was their poop lake. Yes, it’s literally a lake of poop and as pleasant as it was in mild weather, I’m sure it’s fully ripe in summer’s 140 degree temperatures. Rumor has it that some Romanians swam across it for $500 but the Americans I asked all agreed they wouldn’t do it for less than $100K.
On the outskirts of the base are some trashed buildings where some Afghan nationals still live. We drove by it just slow enough for a six-year-old girl to open the door of our SUV. For all I know it was a suicide-bomber training exercise but luckily she wasn’t packing any heat.
Today we were up bright and early to catch a flight to Bagram then another one to Jalalabad (which is poised to overtake “falafel” as my favorite word). The way things work here is you have to check in for flights three hours ahead of time and get your baggage weighed but they don’t actually take the baggage nor do they allow you to leave it unattended. That means you’re stuck in the airport until your flight leaves, which could be any moment- or never. I’m such a sucker that I still believe it’s going to be “any moment” so I stare at the walls rather than reading a book or watching a movie. Today while waiting, we were taken to a section of the airport terminal known as the “Taliban’s Last Stand.” Apparently this was the last Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan, which the coalition put an end to with a couple of fat bombs. Personally, I don’t think such force was necessary. I think they could have just promised the Taliban rides on the next planes out and they would have surrendered before a flight became available. I know I would have. Instead we spent half of a beautiful day hanging out in the airport only to be told there were no more flights so we would be stuck here another day and miss a second show.
I spent the rest of the afternoon doing laundry then I checked out a concert the British put on this evening. It was held on the Boardwalk, a huge courtyard, and featured a pretty good cover band with a Chris Daughtry lookalike for a lead singer. It was bizarre to attend an outdoor concert with a couple thousand people and not catch even one whiff of weed. The show included four dancing girls in skimpy outfits gyrating with one another- just what a bunch of guys forbidden from having sex for a year need to see.
Some guy let me use his cell phone to call home. Unfortunately, I only know two phone numbers offhand so I didn’t get to take full advantage of it. This picture is actually of a walkie talkie with a three foot antenna but it looked so much like my first cell phone I had to get a picture with it.
The distinguishing characteristic of Kandahar is the signs. They’ve got signs for everything and I thought I’d show you a little sample.
The good ‘ol “What colour is your urine?” sign is displayed on all the bathroom stalls. I thought it sounded like a fun game to play but none of the other women wanted to take me on. I guess they could tell by looking at me that I was a contender. And rightfully so- I won! They’re going to have to stop drinking water pretty early in the morning if they want to compete with the Burnt Sienna color palette I’ve got going on.
This sign hangs in the Luxembourg D-FAC (dining facility). There’s a whole Silence of the Lambs thing happening here (“It puts the lotion in the basket…”). The only thing stranger than the pronoun usage is the fact that Luxembourg is represented on a military installation.
I’m guessing this operation began during the writer’s strike because this has to be the worst-named operation in history. What’s next? Operation GotMilk? Operation Wedgie?
The thing I love about this sign is the way it tells you to find shelter after the attack has ended. It’s a good thing the military doesn’t have any signs offering sexual advice. They’d probably tell guys to put condoms on after they come.