Saturday, November 19, 2011

Welcome to Kandahar

This place is crazy.

I got off the plane with an iconic Afghan sun setting behind me, just like I always pictured it. Me in my vest, rucksack on, helmet in hand, walking off the plane with the sun setting behind me. Wish I had had a camera.

Then I stepped into the actual city. This place is a literal maze of concrete barriers and barbed wire. There are tunnels that go everywhere, and a wrong turn can take you to a dead end in no time. It's dirty, dusty, trashy, smelly, and cramped - and incredibly crowded.

This place thrives on a kind of ordered chaos that is difficult to describe. It's like if modern day New York were thrown back into the wild wild west. There are humans EVERYWHAR, cars and buses brushing past all the pedestrians, and everyone is wearing a side arm or carrying a rifle. On top of that, everyone is from everywhere and there is really no dominant race or ethnicity. It is hands down the most multicultural place I have ever been.

There are rules... but they are more like guidelines. As far as I can tell, even things like uniform wear is incredibly lax. Don't have the right headgear? Just throw on a German patrol cap - it looks pretty much the same. Don't have one? Meh, just throw on your beanie for PT. It'll be fine.

There are connexes EVERYWHERE. "Connex" is slang of some kind for the giant storage containers that the Army uses. They are as long as houses and can fit a ton of stuff inside. Well, when they first came over here with a boatload of connexes, they just threw the empty shells in the city and used them to create this giant maze. Add that to all the concrete, barbed wire, loose rock, dirt, and broke down buildings, and it feels like... well, like a war zone.

Then you run in to a TGIF restaurant. wtf, right? I watched the Broncos play the Jets and had a pizza later that day. Like... what? Salsa night? WHAR AM I? Then I remember we've been here for ten years so of course there's going to be a lot of American type comforts. It's still surprising, though, to see a guy playing Xbox or watch Sportscenter out here.

Today's training was long, but worth it. More on that tomorrow. Gotta sleep. Peace.

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