Afghanistan – One step at a time

This entry has been written over the course of one day, today.  Saturday 07April12.

All long journeys can be broken down into a series of smaller trips.

It is middday on Saturday.  Today I will eventually land in Kandahar.  Today’s first trip lead me out of the hotel.  A well-planned wake up call rousted me an hour before check-out.  I was dead-to-the-world enjoying a bed and some comfortable pillows.  I’d recommend the hotel at the Dubai Airport, convenient and comfy.

After a short search I found the check-in desk where I would get my borading pass printed.  I am asked to wait.  It is still longer than 3 hours before my scheduled boarding time.

From the waiting area adjacent to check-in desk E, past a security check point, “Kandahar” is called.  I show my passport one more time and collect my boarding pass.  I see the flight is set to take off at 1440, not the previously scheduled 1330.  I will let my National Guard contact know, though I imagine their wheels are already in motion.  An hour late, in Army time, isn’t much.

The sign reads, “wish you a pleasent journey” I say ‘thank you’ to myself.

After collecting my borading pass I take steps from inside the airport to the waiting bus that will take me from the oppulance of Dubai Terminal 1 to the modest surroundings of Terminal 2.

Four, maybe 5, steps from the door to the curb.  It is enough time to breath in some warm, outdoor air.  They are my first out-of-doors breaths since Minneapolis, on Thursday morning.

The flight was posted for a 1510 departure, landing in Kabul.  ‘Kabul?’ I ask a guy I met, a guy originally from Kandahar, now he lives in the U.K.  It’s been over 10 years since his last real visit home to see his family.  In 2010, he said, he visited and planned to be home for a month.  After a week he returned to the U.K.  It was so bad, he continued, you couldn’t leave the house.  I could tell he was absolutely thrilled to be going back home again, back home at a time of reltative peace.

“Kabul?” I ask him.  He tells me the flight will continue on after we deplane.  He, and I both hope this is the case.  Information is a little difficult to find.  It seems like planes leave when they’re ready to do so.  The pre-set schedule isn’t that important.

The lunch service on the Ariana flight was very efficient.  Passengers had their choice of curried grey meat with rice, or rice with curried grey meat.  My guess is lamb.

Overall the flight was nice.  I had more leg room than I did when I paid for more legroom on my Delta flight.  Outside my window I saw a landscape the resembled a cross between western South Dakota and the moon.  Let’s just call it Wyoming-esque.

While waiting in line for the bathroom a couple of kids started asking me questions.  They wanted to know where I was going, where I was from and where my house was.  The most talkative kid was nine years old, spoke great English and his eyes lit up when I guessed his age to be 12.  Turns out the kids were going to Kandahar to visit extended family.

Upon landing in Kandahar I met up with my escort.  I have unpacked my gear and am now ready to begin my work.  It’s good to finally be here.

I will upload photos that will accompany this entry in a later post.

Thanks for reading, more later…