Friday, May 29, 2009

Life in Kuwait - Waiting for Iraq

Well, for those of you who haven't heard, or those who might have heard but have not believed, or even better for those who have believed without even seeing.....yes - there is a Starbucks in the middle of the Kuwaiti desert barely 10 miles from the Iraqi border and about 50+ miles from any non-military sign of civilization. Not only that, I'm sure that it is one of the few Starbucks in the world virtually surrounded by large blast barriers. But that is where I am right now as I write this blog. I have only purchased one item here, and that was way too many. Don't get me wrong, the iced coffee mocha was great. But $4 for 16 ounces of mostly ice was a bit too excessive for my taste.

But enough about the extravagances we have here in the beautiful Kuwaiti desert. Let's talk living conditions and some of the beautiful sights and wild animals.

For starters, below is my cot area in our tent. As I believe I have stated before, our tents are a lot nicer than they were the first time around. They are semi-permanent structures with a real door and well sealed against the elements and multiple A/C units which actually makes for a relatively chilly morning wake-up.

This is a photo of my cot area. As in the first rotation, many times you have to make the best of what you have. I have indicated my little "dresser" made of empty water boxes. It's not fancy, but it's free and better than rummaging around in a duffle bag each morning that's for sure.

Also, I have declined the extravagance of my Army sleeping bag and I have some of my old college twin size linens and a $6 blanket that I bought from the PX (Post Exchange, aka - "Wall Mart")

As you might imagine, there is hardly anything that grows or lives in the desert. The main three living creatures other than human are Camels, Mice, and Sand Vipers. Mice aren't worth photographing because they look the same as everywhere else in the world. And I have yet to find a sand viper here. But here's some photos of camels that were part of a Bedouin herder's flock. The funny part is that most Kuwaiti citizens only see camels at the zoo. Once you realize the part of the country you have to go to to see them in the wild, you realize why. There's no good reason for a sane person to be this far out into the desert. However, there are apparently about 100 Bedouin (nomadic) families in this general area.

The Army, in its infinite wisdom and a way to over complicate everything has devised a "category" level for how hot it is. This is a snapshot of the tables that the army uses to indicate the heat category, how much water to drink, and work/rest intervals. Since the temp is a mathematical calculation using ambient air temp and relative humidity, the category depends on more than simply the actual air temp. Since the relative humidity here is roughly 5% (most of you are used to 15-20% on a normal "dry" day) the WBGT Index is actually usually LOWER than the ambient temperature by about 10 degrees.

That being said - the table was mainly meant for use in the US. Below is a photo of the flags that the base puts up in random places to indicate what the heat category is. As you can see in this photo, the flag is black - the most severe heat category. This is where it is for most of the daylight hours here.

I mysef have devised my own system of determining the heat and assigning a category. It is as follows:

Green = Pretty darn warm
Yellow = HOT!!
Red = D*&M HOT!!!
Black = Balls-to-the-wall HOT!!!
Yes, the last two categories seem on the surface to be a little profane - but if you were here you would totally understand and probably accuse me of understating it. There's a reason trees die at simply the thought of being here! The only bright side is, we get the heat out of the way up-front. The next 3-4 months will be miserable, but after that it's all down hill and once it starts feeling warm again it'll be time to go home.
Another past-time of many units in theater is to paint the concrete T-Walls that line the roads and provide blast protection against the most remote of chances that a suicide bomber would make his/her way onto base. I was driving around yesterday running "errands" and came across these two side by side. I figured my Kentucky friends and co-workers, as well as Donna, my family, and anyone else with any ties at all to Arkansas would appreciate them.

Last but not least, there was a sad moment at the base a couple days ago. Somehow these poor destitute young ladies wandered onto base. Allegedly the Oakland Raiders had sent them out for new dance uniforms and they ended up taking a wrong turn after crossing the bridge to San Francisco and ended up wandering into one of the tents. Poor things even had the unfortunate luck of having the airline loose their luggage between the US and Kuwait.

I promised them that I would ask my perfectly wonderful and totally understanding wife for permission to adopt one (maybe two) of them. As of right now I still have yet to hear back from her and I'm thinking maybe the last cell payment did not go through as the line appears to be disconnected. But I'm sure once I get to talk to her again I'll get permission to begin the adoption paperwork. I mean just look at the poor famished young ladies...all they really need is a good home.
Well that's about all for now on how life is in Kuwait. The next 3 days will be pretty busy with running ranges and training for my folks. Hopefully in a few days I'll get to throw some more photos up of folks actually doing "Army Stuff" as many folks like to call it.
In the mean time - if you see my wife, tell her to give me a call once her phone gets turned back on :)


Thomas said...

Poxs of Tony, Melanie & Emaline are on my facebook page. Happy family.
Army Dad, Navy Vet, Proud Grandpa (Tony declared me "Grandpa" 9 months ago.)

SocialWkr24/7 said...

Hey brother! I miss you - but if you have Starbucks and cheerleaders I'm not sure you'll ever come back... ;) I'll pass the message on to Natalie if I talk to her though!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the sign. I am actually in Arkansas right now. I even took John with me. He installed a window and I am powerwashing the deck. It was a little warm today, but so much cooler than by you. Hope you are having fun playing with the camels!