:: Saturday, July 29, 2006 ::
Another day, another dollar
If it weren't so true. Things are still going alright here. I'm alive and well, and so is everyone else I know. I've been plagued with headaches lately, but its just my sinuses acting up. I thought I had a real good tan going today, until I took a shower and washed all the dirt of off me.
Yeah, I know. Gross.
So the other day we had to go to Pol-e-charki to get check some serial numbers. Easy task, right? Welcome to the Army. Well, Mac has no idea where Pol-e-charki is, we both just know its down the road. And we know it as "Blackhorse", the American part of Pol-e-charki. So Mac turns in the request for escorts to take us down to Blackhorse, but his request is shot down because the route isn't dangerous.
"Great!" I think. Its not dangerous. That's awesome. No need to worry. However, I'll problem still exists. We don't know where this place this. Mac begins calling around, looking for people who know the way to Pol-e-charki, but alas, anyone who knows is ... guess where. They are already at Pol-e-charki.
After some chatting around, Mac finds a guy who knows the way. Its the back way in, but a way is a way. So everything is set for us to leave and head out. We meet at 1630 and he gives us our convoy brief.
Mac: "We're going to Pol-e-charki and we're leaving at [OPSEC]."
Me: "No duh ..."
Mac: "Shutup, I'm supposed to say this." (hands us three other guys a map) "Our primary route is in blue and our secondary is in orange."
Gatke: "Great. I only know the primary way though, the secondary is a no-go for me."
Mac: "Well, that sucks, cause we can't go our primary way, its closed. Some NATO operation going on."
We all sigh.
Mac: "But we'll figure it out. Todd says that we just go straight and look for a big bombed out building on the right and some huge speed bumps in the road and then we are at Pol-e-charki."
Gatke: "Does Todd not realize that nearly every building is bombed out and the whole road is one giant pothole?"
And its true. Every building is a dump, every part of the road is a speed bump. So we gather our stuff and we head out for the gate of Phoenix. As we leave we notice that traffic is a little higher than normal, but nothing big. That is until we realized that the Afghans decided to throw rocks in the middle of the road to push all the traffic away from their shops.
Did I say rocks? I mean GIANT BOULDERS!!!
So Gatke is in the lead vehicle and he is swerving in and out of cars, dodging jingle trucks, and trying not to rip the suspension to shreds on the bumps. Eventually we wind up behind a jingle truck that is making good time through the traffic so we stay behind him for a few minutes. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Gatke swerves real hard to the left. Mac and I think he found a way around the jingle truck but then out of the dust left from the traffic we see what he swerved to miss.
A giant, enormous, gargantuan boulder the size of our tire emerges from the dust and Mac cuts real hard to left to avoid it. He missed hitting it by inches, I promise. It was so close. I just knew he was going to hit it when I saw it, I was prepping for the smash, waiting for the crash, but we blew on by. It took me a minute to calm down and prepare for the next surprise.
I didn't wait long. Soon we were past the jingle truck and heading down the road. The traffic thinned out, but a hundred or so yards in front of us, we saw something yellow that appeared to be heading our way. It was a taxi. On our side of the highway, heading straight for us. Gatke refused to move and finally the taxi jumped out of the way just as we went flying by and I managed to snap a picture.
We passed a few more interesting sights on the way to Pol-e-charki. A few random walls in the middle of a field, an Afghan version of a Flying J filled with jingle trucks, a small town outside Pol-e-charki filled with shops and swarming with people, and about 30 bombed out buildings. However, there were speed bumps in the road. Actually they were tank tracks ran across the road; whatever works I guess.
Finally we come across on sign that says "Pol-e-charki Gate 2". We jump for joy, we found Pol-e-charki. So we keep going down the way and turn into Gate 3. Mac calls our contact at Blackhorse.
Mac: "Hey we're here ... we turned in Gate 3 ... that's what the sign said ... I see a mosque (I took a picture of it) and a bunch of white buildings ... we're close? ... Ok ... Roger, turn right and follow the road ... Alright, see you in a bit."
So we turn around because we passed the road and turn right. Yep, we turn right.
So Gatke says he thinks he knows where we are and takes the lead. He turns left at a road and we start driving through some Afghan Army barracks. There's some Afghan guys outside staring at us as we drove by, with a look on their face of "What in the world are Americans doing here?"
We weave in and out of barracks, over some speed bumps, through some more barracks, past a motor pool and end up on a hill in the middle of Pol-e-charki. Mac calls our contact again.
Mac: "Ok, we're on top of a hill with a yellow house ... I'm not sure, but we passed a bunch of barracks and a motor pool ... oh .... ok .... yeah, we saw that .... we didnt see that .... none of that ..... I can the mosque from here .... ok, you know where we are? ... Good, come get us."
Me: "We're lost?"
Mac: "We're not lost, someone knows where we are!"
So we wait for a few minutes and I took some pictures. About 1o minutes later another truck pulls up and its my friend from back in Shelby. He is just laughing his head off. He can't speak from laughing so hard. He just points and we know he means to follow him.
We wind up driving back through the same barracks we passed, the same Afghan soldiers, the same speed bumps, and we wind up at the same mosque that we saw when we came in. And of course, we drive up to the same intersection we were at before, but instead we take the correct right and head towards Blackhorse, instead of the right we took which lead us to nowhere.
So all that for about two minutes of work. We checked the numbers and then we were gone again. Of course, on this trip we knew the way back so it wasn't as exciting. The traffic wasn't as bad, but the people were all out getting food for dinner and such. It was pretty cool watching everyone shop. Well, watching what we could while we zoomed by.
Its neat getting to go out and see the people here. Each time I understand their life a little bit more. This may be a dirty country, but the women still sweep their houses out. I may not see a reason, but they do. They deserve our respect. These people live desolate lives compared to us, but they still do with what they have.
They still live. They don't let small stuff get them down. They do their work and do it happily because they do it for their family. They don't do it for themselves, or for a promotion, they do it because they have to, otherwise their family doesn't eat.
A lot of Americans need to realize this. Need to be humbled I guess. My heart breaks for these people, but then I realize that they are doing better than us. They have no worries. They live what seems carefree lives. Yeah, war tore the place apart, but they work around it still. They live like nothing happened. They go about their day like normal people.
Because they are normal people. We, Americans, need to stop looking at the Afghan people, the Iraq people, middle eastern people as terrorists or belittle them. I don't know what I'm trying to say. Just, be nice, ok?
I'm tired so this is all jumbled. I don't know. I'm going to bed.
God is good. All the time.
:: Ben 12:17 PM [+] ::