Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kuwaiting for Godot?

Got the heck out of Baghdad yesterday morning on a very long and hot C-130 flight. We were jammed in the aircraft like armored sardines. Had to make a detour to Tikrit, where the sky was opaque with sand. Fortunately the flight conditions were just above minimums, so we bounced our way south to Ali Asalem Air Base. Four hours of intense heat, blowing sand coating everything, and a break at the MacDonalds...by the way, the "Big n' Tasty" burger is only half-accurately named. It was indeed "Big", but far from "Tasty". A big bus arrived, and we sat in air conditioned comfort until it was time for the two hour trek south to Camp Arifjan. This was the first time I had been out on the highway in Kuwait, and I was struck by the contrast with Iraq. Kuwait is thriving, the buildings are beautiful and well-maintained, and commerce appears to be thriving. Even in the best parts of Baghdad, it still resembles a desert version of 1945 Berlin. I kept looking in vain for camels out the bus window, but did see small clusters of black burka-clad women sitting out in vacant lots in the terrific heat. I doubt that these were local meetings of Oprah's Book Club, but don't have any clue what they were doing.
Camp Arifjan is as close to a resort as I've seen over here. Though we are quartered in 10-person tents, the bunks have actual mattresses, the air conditioners are more than up to the task of cooling us down, and they are right by the showers and latrines. The shower trailers are deluxe. We are about 5 minutes from a huge Starbuck's, which could be in suburban Seattle instead of Kuwait...and there's WI-FI!!!!!!!

We've been commenting on the fact that our colleagues who have been stationed here the entire deployment drew the same combat pay as those of us in Iraq and Afghanistan...without experiencing any of the hostile artillery/rocket/small arms fire we did. Guess that policy is due to change soon, though...
We could definitely tell this is a rear area garrison environment this morning, as we were awakened at 0600 by loudspeakers blaring the bugle call "Reveille", followed by the theme from the movie, "Patton". Jeez...

Anyway, we've had a couple of battalion formations, and spend the rest of the day in our PT uniform, reading, catching up on email, and taking naps. Our flight homeward departs at the end of the week, though we learned this morning there will be a stop in Qatar to pick up a bunch of USAF types, a stop in the states to drop them off, and finally we'll be arriving home...well, the work release facility, anyway. Ten more days in uniform, then it'll be "Fighting Leprechaun on Leave". I can't wait.

1 comment:

  1. Lep,

    Glad you're coming back (and in one piece). Coupla weekends ago I had my first McD's (fish sandwhich) in about five years. God it was awful - - the very reason I don't go to McD's in the first place.

    Welcome back to the world. Can't wait to hear the "real" war stories/