Well, what can I say? My year in Afghanistan was very successful both financially and spiritually. I met so many people from so many cultures. Also made me realize how short life is. I discovered that I had a lot of misplaced priorities.
My first 5 months went rather well even though half the time our container was without power which meant it was below freezing. The winter is a slow time in Afghanistan not a lot gets done, decisions on making things work for the first 7 months seemed to be nonexistent. Most of my time was in the Administrative area solving personal problems. I had traveled to Kandahar numerous times to deal with, let us just say people problems.
My wake up call came a week after visiting Camp Salerno. The next week the places that I had eaten at and visited no longer existed. Because of a 5-ton Truck Bomb was driven through the gate and killed a bunch of people outside and in the dining facility that was destroyed. My walk to the dining facility a week earlier at the same time of day would have killed me and the person I was walking with.
After that, the rocket that landed in our vehicle yard 30 feet from my office container in Bagram seemed irrelevant. Of course; the what if’s? They could drive you crazy and it did to some extent. It is over for me now, Afghanistan. But there are a lot of soldiers and contractors that went through much more than I did who it will never be over with it. If they are completely over it; it is because they are dead. I heard the other day when traveling a place gets inside you. It is true everyplace you visit gets inside you for better or worse.
On another trip to see a worker in Camp Sharona, I got to view the vehicle that was destroyed in an attack. I had seen battled damaged vehicles before but in this one, a kid from my son’s high school wrestling team had died. The vehicle had hit an IED which destroyed the vehicle. There was a firefight that ensued. Everyone in the vehicle was killed. Although I had only met this kid a couple of times it still was a little personal, bring the war even closer to home. Note that this is not the picture of the vehicle.
After being in Afghanistan for 6 months I met Terri in Dubai for a 10-day break. We rode public transportation while we were in Dubai. Then rented a car for our trip out west driving the UAE was fantastic. It was the first time I ever saw camels at a rest stop. We spent 5 days in the city of Dubai and 5 days at a small beach resort famous with Expats on the eastern coast of the Unite Arab Emirates. It was the first time I have stayed in a hotel with no other Americans. All most everyone spoke Russian. I did snorkel out to snoopy Island at the Sandy Beach resort http://www.sandybm.com/ . I have now swum in all the major oceans except for the Arctic. I have to work on that one. While on the coast we did take a few car day trips. Making a wrong turn one day we ran in into the border fence that separates the UAE and Oman. We did backtrack and make it back to the sandy beach hotel. The old city in Dubai is awesome also it was good to have a break. I plan on eventually writing a whole section on Dubai and the UAE.
Back to Afghanistan and then work another 3 months and it is a trip to France. Terri and I spent 16 days in France; both in Paris then renting a car a traveling to Chamonix. In Paris, we rented an Apartment for a week and lived like Parisian. We will do this again. Living in a city without a car could be a great life. The boys were there in Paris with us for a few days this will always make this trip special. In Chamonix, we hiked in the French alps and took the cable car up to Mt. Blanc and over across the glacier to Italy.
Then another 3 months in Afghanistan and I’m back home. It was a long flight back home to Atlanta from Dubai. Going through customs the TSA agent could see I haven't been to the US in a Year, with a big smile she said welcome home. It was good to hear.
It was a world wind trip that definitely still is inside me. It really has to lead me in my decision to live a better life. And gave me the courage to address some health issues that I had been ignoring before I left. Thank You, Afghanistan.