Monday, May 5, 2008

D-276: Kuwait

We’ve been in Kuwait since Friday with absolutely nothing to do. We are waiting for our range time at Udairi, we have a 3 day 2 night exercise there before we can get the hell on. The flight here from Fort Jackson was on a chartered DC-10 which was only about two thirds full, allowing for an empty seat on each side. They served food non-stop, there were a million boxes of Girl Scout cookies from the USO, and they played decent movies; so all things considered the flight was delightful but very long. We had short stops in Maine and Germany; we left at 2330L in South Carolina, and finally got to our tents at 0600L in Kuwait. I have no idea how much total travel time that is, the changing time zones give me a migraine, but we are 7 hours ahead for those of you scoring at home.

With the exception of short meetings and twice daily musters, we have nothing to do. Popular activities include; movies, sleeping, and bullshitting in the smoke pit. One night we played Trivial Pursuit. Several people have decided to just sleep the entire day, every day. I don’t know how they do it, but I envy them.

Internet access is fleeting. There are several computers at the USO and at a small computer center. There are always long lines, and the connection is painfully slow making it nearly intolerable to do anything other than e-mail. I have resolved to blog in my tent and bring it there on thumb drive; if you are reading this, it worked. Four DSN phones are available at the USO, allowing you to call base and get transferred. That is my preferred method, but for the impatient and frivolous, there are calling card phones readily available as well with rates running around 19c/min.

I lost a pair of sunglasses on the plane, which is a bummer. They were a sweet pair of brand new Oakley Flak Jackets. I still have my ballistic Oakley’s, but they just didn’t provide enough cover to keep all the swirling sand out of my eyes, so I bought a pair of Wiley-X. They take a little getting used to because they block a little of your peripherals, but they keep out the sand.

Speaking of the sand, it sucks. It is soft and fine and fucking everywhere. When the wind blows, it is like Sparky Anderson just kicked dirt in your face. Some guys don’t seem to mind it as much, but I can’t take it. The heat is actually not that bad yet. They say temperatures of 130+F are not unusual, but it has only hit the low hundreds and there has been decent cloud cover.

The living conditions are a little rugged. We are in 12 man tents; but they are air conditioned. The biggest complaint about the tents is that there are no foot lockers, so you have to live out of your luggage. If you’re packing all sea bags, you’ll be hating life. It will take you an hour to get dressed because you can’t find anything. If you’re looking for advice; pack at least one very large duffel bag, and organize your gear before leaving for Kuwait. The showers are in a trailer, and are actually pretty good. They get cleaned every day and you have shower curtains. The toilets however, are horrifying. There are two kinds; first, you have your basic blue water porta-john, those are disgusting whether you are at the Meadowlands or in Kuwait. Second is the “Cadillac,” which is a trailer containing a flushable toilet, urinal and a sink. These vary from tolerable all the way to the most terrible thing in the world depending on how recently they’ve been cleaned. In either case, the smell is matched in intensity only by the heat, so train your body to only crap when it is dark out.

If the purpose of the stop in Kuwait is to make you so miserable that you are actually looking forward to going to Iraq, mission accomplished. In Iraq I know I will have a can, reliable internet, and a job to fill my time, so I am looking forward to it. I will likely not write again from here, so I’ll see you all in Iraq.

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