Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sweeping the dust bunnies.

Much thanks for your patience as I adjust to the technical challenges that life here in Afghanistan affords. I'm currently working at Kandahar Air Field, and only within the past twenty-four hours have I (after much difficulty) procured an open Internet connection. And by "open", I mean that it is unrestricted: obviously through work I can easily access the Internet, but the Department of Defense understandably limits access to "time-waster" sites, so I have little ability to use the Web for purposes other than checking the news and sending e-mail. All blogs are prohibited. Fortunately I've found a reasonably secure wireless connection at an Internet cafe, though it is slower and more expensive than anything I would encounter stateside. Needless to say, my access is limited and will continue to remain that way until I've found a rhythm.

But that rhythm will elude me for quite some time. Within the past two days, I have found out that I am most likely going to transfer to one of the bases in the north of the country, with a probable interim period at Bagram Air Field (also in the north). Thus, I cannot forge a contract with an IP here in Kandahar because in all likelihood I won't remain here much longer. To avoid this post from seeming overwhelmingly negative, let it be known that these changes, though jarring, should also prove exhilarating and will allow me to explore military installations within a variety of milieus: some run by NATO, some by Americans, some by other allies; some in regions more peaceful than others; some in milder climates and lower elevations while others are nestled in the lofty, frigid Hindu Kush range that comprises a huge portion of this landlocked nation. I will continue to work on posts of American landscapes which will appear intermittently here at the blog, and--security concerns notwithstanding--will alternate those more conventional posts with montages of the dusty valleys of eastern Afghanistan.

I conclude with a photo from the "Boardwalk" of Kandahar Air Field--essentially the downtown of the base, a commercial center where the most people congregate and the majority of conventional goods and services are available. (Also the most frequent target of hostile rocket attacks.) Are these distance measurements accurate?


Diana said...

Anytime you can post photos would be fantastic. It is hard for us in our cushioned lives to imagine life on a base in such an arid country.
I can not read the words on the photo even when I enlarge it so who knows about accuracy.
Are you allowed to take photos inside the dining halls, the barracks, the restaurants?

Nici said...

It took effort to put that together and my guess is, that the distances are correct. To be in such an isolated place, having accurate measurements to other locations, to me would help provide a sense of connection to the world.

This opportunity just gets better and better for you! Oh, to travel to so many places, I must admit I am jealous. Document, Document, Document!!

AmericanDirt said...

Thanks for your responses! Sorry about the difficulty in seeing the photo: I generally have to shrink my pictures so they don't end up hogging too much of my available space on this blog. Perhaps I shrunk them too much. And again, sorry about the slowness in responding--internet access here is an absolute ordeal, as well as a money pit.

That said, I can take pictures of dining halls, barracks, etc. The dining facilities (DFACs as they call them) are pretty conventional--they look like cafeterias anywhere, with the exception of the temporary one that consists of a network of large tents. I have not yet eaten at a restaurant--I've been warned that the sanitary conditions leave something to be desired and it can cause gastrointestinal problems later. Eventually I'll get sick of the DFAC food and take my chances.

Stay tuned: my next post will probably be a bit more conventional American Dirt stuff, but after that I will try to include some more lengthy reflection on base living in Afghanistan (after I can compare a few more to one another).

Kyria said...

I am sure you already know this, but just in case you don't: you can set up an email-to-blog address, then if you can't get to your blog, you can just email the post to your blog instead. Its under the "settings" tab, then "email and mobile", then "posting options".

AmericanDirt said...

Thanks, Kyria. I had nearly completely forgotten about that. It would have been useful a few weeks ago, no doubt, when my only internet access was heavily DoD-restricted. These days, I have a bit more freedom, but since I depend so heavily on photographs (all stored on my computer) I need a good Internet Provider so I can do all the work from said computer---and therein lies the problem! Thankfully the shared computers at this base accept thumb drives, so I can write my blog on my computer, drag the relevant photos, and post it from a location that has Internet; at Bagram Air Field I couldn't even get that much done. It's been a challenge, but stay tuned: an article is on its way.