Well ladies and gentlemen, I made it. I am now enjoying my extended stay in sunny Afghanistan. The temperature in MeS is a steamy 110 degrees and daylight extends from about 3:45 AM to well after 9 PM.
So anywho, wow, that's really all I have to say. I forgot how hot it could really get. I'm dying here. I know in 7 to 10 days I will acclimate to the temperature, but, man, it sure is going to be a miserable week. I've only been here a day, but all I've been doing is sweating non-stop. Unlike Iraq, the air conditioning capabilities are seriously underdeveloped here, so there is really little respite from the heat. But let me tell you a little about the flight over here.
So, in typical military fashion, this is how our flight to MeS (Mazar e Sharif) went down. Originally, we were suppose to drop our bags the night before our flight at around 10 PM. Since that was the case and because the night before I stayed up to watch the soccer game, I figured I would catch up on my beauty sleep before I had to go drop my stuff. Well, at about 7:35 PM, I get a tap on my shoulder and the brigade S-1 tech is standing over me.
"You need to be at bag drop right now," she says. Of course, at this point, I had not looked at the clock, so my immediate assumption is that I had slept through my alarm. It was only after I glanced at my clock that the tech told me that our flight had been moved up.
"Well, when does it take off now," I ask.
To which she replied, "in an hour and a half."
An hour and a half? Are you kidding me? Not only was none of my stuff packed, but I was completely disoriented. I still needed to get my stuff together, take it down to the baggage site (a little less than half a mile), get my IOTV (our protective vest) and helmet, get to the bus, drive out to the airfield, load the plane (which involves both personnel and pallets). Needless to say, it was a complete cluster @#$%. My original intent was to do all this without sweating prior to having to load the plane, but that proved impossible after the flight was moved up.
In the end, we literally pulled up to the plane, boarded, got situated and took off. There were no breaks and no rest. Needless to say, I was a completely drenched, lugging all my equipment with me on to the flight, completely flustered and miserable. Now, anyone who knows what a C-130 looks like knows that these things are completely cramped. Inside, there are 4 rows of seats, two pairs facing each other (the middle seats are back to back, the other two rows line the inside of the aircraft). All passengers sit sideways facing each other for the entire flight. The rows that face each other are so close that your knees hit the front of the other person's seat, so you have to sit with your legs intermingled with those of the person across from you. Oh, and on top of that, you have to hold your carry on bag on your lap, while wearing your IOTV and helmet. As if this wouldn't be torturous enough, there is very limited airflow, so it is normally very warm and uncomfortable. Now, if you happen to be prone to motion sickness or claustrophobia, flights like these are your krytonite. I happen to fear the latter.
Luckily, I didn't have time for my panic attack due to the limited time prior to the flight. It was actually probably a good thing that we didn't have all the normal build-up to the flight, because then that would have just given me time to get all worked-up before boarding the plane. Fortunately, this isn't my first rodeo, so I made sure I boarded last (the end seats have a little more leg room), popped a Dramamine and prepared to stick it out. Of course, I got some flack from a 1SG in our group (I'll call him the Honorable because he was the FOB Mayer during a pre-deployment exercise) because, apparently since I am "small", I should have to be crammed in the middle. Meanwhile, his company commander who is about the same size as me, was sitting on the end of the seat. The hypocrisy is amazing.
Anyway, I digress. We rolled into MeS in record time, thank God, because I seriously had to go to the bathroom, and there are no toilets on the plane. Even if there were, there would be no way to access them. After arriving, we got a quick inbrief, retrieved our bags and headed for our temporary tents, about which we had been hearing horror stories for the last week. In all honestly, they really aren't that bad - not much worse than my last deployment. The air conditioning was weak and there are no wall lockers in which to put any of your belongings, but otherwise, ok (at least that is my assessment for the time being). The word on the street is that we are moving into a new tent tonight (I will give a rundown of the politics of MeS and Bear Village in my next blog), so we will see what that's like. For now, I will have to go, not only because the Internet is rationed, but because you probably don't want to read anymore.
Until next time....