A young man's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk...and apparently, back again.

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Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

The details of my life are quite inconsequential, really. Summers in Rangoon...luge lessons...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bagram bemused

(My latest transfer through there isn't current was a transit point two weeks ago, on my way from Kuwait to Kabul.  But I had the photos, and was thinking about the place, and remembered that the day I arrived in Afghanistan for my second tour here was the 14th anniversary of my commissioning as a 2nd Lt in the Marine Corps.  So I figured I'd pat myself on the back...)

Mud, busy traffic, vehicles parked everywhere, and buildings make of a super-sized version of other U.S. camps in the 'stan. I didn't miss this place one iota.

What can you say about a former Soviet base you can wait around for days and days, wondering how on earth we actually get anyone or anything where it needs to be?  If you manage to find an advocate who has a good hookup with those who hold power over the manifests, you might get out in a relatively timely manner, as I did thanks to a smooth-talking corporal.  Only a day's wait!  If not, you'll be in suspended limbo and required to stay put...with your four bags worth of gear, your body armor & kevlar helmet, and your dreams of a bed sometime in your future.  I'll leave it to my new friend Chris from pre-deployment processing, following me out here by a few days, to succinctly describe the big base alternately known as the Black Hole...

"I have been rotting at Bagram waiting for a flight. This place is a zoo and nobody seems to be doing anything. I can't wait to get out of here."

The one good thing about the Bagram "terminal" 24-hour coffee at the USO next door.  Named for the great Pat Tillman, it has an appropriate wall friend Joanne, who named her baby boy Tillman in his honor, will likely appreciate this the most!

When back in the metal seats of the waiting area, there is less inspiring stuff to look at.  Stickers, mainly from units who passed through years ago.  Some random ones turn out to be pretty amusing though...

This had me saying "No...Way!" for a reason.  Years ago I bought a large bottle of Arrogant Bastard beer simply for its name, its label depiction of a devil hoisting a beer, and its taunting description...and that description still makes me laugh.  I guess they market it in Poland now, based on this sticker.  But here is the writeup (in Englishsky) that always suckered me in...

There is just something about embarking on a six-month dry deployment that leaves me wistful for the taste of a cold beer...just one!  I realize that between this and the wine bar post, you may be drawing a conclusion, but I'm just a regular guy who enjoys the simple pleasures of life, and beer and wine happen to rank pretty highly on that list right about now.

This was a purely staged photo, in order to represent what I wish I was doing at the time...sleeping.  Immersed in Rory Stewart's "The Places In Between" and my dying-battery ipod, I did reflect on the fact that time spent transiting is not all that bad.  The book is an outstanding cultural resource on Afghanistan, by the way -- a young Brit walks from Herat to Kabul in the Winter of 2002 (immediately following the fall of the Taliban) and gives his insights from along the mountainous way.  I highly recommend it.

These Poles figured out how to pass the time in their own way.  Witness the peril of the Black Hole!


Blogger John Cocktoasten said...

Good to hear from you again! In case you haven't heard--Chicago took the first game and the goal-tending on both ends of the ice was pretty mediocre. I'm thinking with an ounce more effort and physical size, either of us could be in net in the Cup Finals rather than blogging.

Randy and I will knock back a couple of Arrogant Bastard Ales for you today.

Get some sleep, and get a haircut hippie!


May 30, 2010 at 2:40 PM  
Blogger yomistast said...

Yo Cuz-

I was about to buy Arrogant Bastard for Zawada's latest beer party. I wound up just buying it for myself, purely for the name and the back label.

I've been slacking on my mets updates. But, there will be one tonight- they lost 18-6 last night and I think the wilpons are looking into changing the laws to allow beheadings- for Ollie P.

June 1, 2010 at 7:05 AM  
Anonymous Slappy said...

14 years ... congrats, bro! And thanks for sending the Pat Tillman USO pics ... you'll remember that I started (and submitted) a petition to have his number retired throughout the NFL, only to be told that the league didn't want to get into "political" matters. Oh well - at least they acknowledged the request. Keep up the great posts ...

June 2, 2010 at 8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Major Dan,
If Rory Stewart was not quick witted and smart as he is, he would not have survived his Herat to Kabul adventure.
His other book "Prince of Marshes" is also another good read.

March 3, 2011 at 2:48 PM  

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