Now that I am sober (I think), I can recount the tale of the travels home. Exciting and fun, as always, and full of wonderful and mysterious adventures.
Okay, that was a bit of a stretch.
We sat out east for approximately forever, give or take an eon. My days consisted largely of wandering to the computer lab, moseying to the PX, maybe looking inside the gym for a quick shudder, some food or what passed for it, and hanging around wherever I thought my team couldn’t find me. I was largely successful, and only got in trouble about once a day, which must be some kind of record. Eventually, we got to split up guard duty on our belongings which were sealed and ready for the plane, so I could spend a few hours a day either pulling a shift or keeping a friend company as they pulled a shift. A bit sad when you are willing to sit on guard duty with someone for lack of anything more interesting to do.
The best part about duty, however, was watching the aircraft. We could see helicoptors moving about and watch the A-10 jets… the culmination of my stay out east (aside from guard duty, because nothing can top sitting for an hour or so in the dark because I consistently got night shift out on a secluded part of the airfield listening to a promotional radio which only picks up two stations that have english, and one of them is a country station) was a trip to the hangars to see A-10s up close. I’m sold. We saw the inner workings of one being worked on and a pilot took us out to see the inside of the pod… awesome. More entertaining than a barrel full of monkeys, and that makes me wonder just what all those monkeys are doing in a barrel.
We finally got word that we were supposed to leave the morning of Monday the 19th of July. Huzzah. Pack it up, load it up, let’s go. Only not so much. As usual, there were problems. They were fixing the tarmac, so the plane couldn’t land. Great day for laying asphalt! Really, what day isn’t, but I digress. I spent the day as I spent most, wandering past working Afghans saying “Hey, buddy! Whatcha staring at?” and saluting officers I passed until reaching muscle failure. But we did get word to be findable around 2100, so it was to be game on.
We did meet at 2100, and we went out to manifest. Then, as per Army standard, commenced milling about. We went to the coffee shop for one last night of sitting around talking about life, the universe, and other absurdities, and I went to pull guard at 0100.
But it really was time to move! The baggage got loaded onto the plane while I watched, and was replaced to go grab my carry on (having been ransacked earlier by customs) and hop aboard. I sat amongst my friends and talked and joked until the motors started up and we could hear the engines putter to life, and as we took off relaxed because from there on out, all roads lead to home.
We stopped to refuel in Asanabad, Kyrzgyzstan (Constantant to vowel ratio: astronomical), then off to Germany. An interesting thing about Asanabad was that the whole time on the ground we werent even supposed to look out the windows. Interesting. Super secret squirrel out there, I guess. Must not be any burkhas.
Germany was another delay, and we were held up for crew troubles (someone must have stolen someone else’s snack pak out of their lunch), so we got to stand around and look at each other for several hours in good ol’ Rein Mein air base. Brought back fantastic memories of the trip out, where we spent three days on that tiny post. But after purchasing and using no-rinse shampoo (no lie!), taking the opportunity to buy candy we hadn’t seen in months, and a lot of sitting around doing nothing, we were finally back on our way. Keep in mind, this is still Tuesday, and our flight left at 0230 that morning… Afghan time.
Most of the trip was spent squeezed between my friend and some baggage crammed on the floor, napping. Occasionally, I got up to antagonize other buddies or to get antagonized by them (it’s only fair), but by and large tried to sleep most of the way. At about 2100 in the evening, North Carolina time, nine and a half hours behind Afghan time, still on Tuesday technically, we arrived at Green Ramp to be searched again by customs in case my magical Afghan snuck out of his genie bottle and was about to wreak havok on our nation.
After the longest day ever (back in time? Without a Deloreon? How do we do it?!), we were breathing air with little or no fecal matter mixed in the dust, it was humid to accompany the hot, and there were people in woodland cammo greeting us that looked incredibly dark to those of us who spent six months in the desert.
Adjustment period has since started, mostly consisting of hanging around and, at least last night, getting blitzed and laughing about anything not having to do with Afghanistan. I still drive somewhat like I am there and want to pass using the entire road as my oyster, and having to remember that the people around me now speak my language so I can’t shout random phrases or curses at them or call them idiots anymore, though sometimes I do it anyway, and we are trying to get back in the swing of things. It is strange, to say the least. Strange doesn’t even begin to describe it, now that I think about it, but it is still good to be back…
To be continued… yes, even before we go back there in six months….