Turns out that what I thought was a simple case of ‘the Crud’, was actually an Upper Respiratory Infection. Being sick here sucks in a major way, because all the dirt and dust in the air makes it really hard to get better, especially when you are congested. Luckily for me, a week and about 5 pounds of pills later I am feeling much better. I still have a bit of a cough, and some light congestion but I feel better enough that I am working at 100% of capacity again.
We drink tons of water here. It’s really important to stay hydrated, especially at altitude. When you start to dehydrate you can really feel the difference in your performance, mood and just your general state of being. I have never drank so much water in my life. I don’t even like water that much, but everywhere you turn here there are pallets full of cases of water, and there is always someone (usually a Sergeant Major or a Corpsman) telling you to “drink more water” or “HYDRATE!” It’s funny. It’s almost as if they got paid a bonus for making us drink more water. I drank a whole case (6 litres) of water, by myself in 48 hours here. All the water does help clear up the congestion though. And it also is important to keep your throat and mouth moist with this much dirt in the air.
We no longer have to live in a tent! It sucked, when we got here we were living in a big ass tent. It wasn’t even a military tent (like a GP Medium), no it was like a big white and blue circus tent full of cots. It really sucked, and it leaked like a sieve when it rained. Since then we have been moved into a ‘B-Hut’. I am not sure why it is called a B-Hut but it is much nicer than the tent. It is basically a wooden shack. It’s pretty ragged, but it doesn’t leak, and it has a heater and an air-conditioner, which makes it leaps and bounds better than the tent. I am living in a B-hut with three other Navy guys. The huts were built to house 8 men. Our hut is split in half, the 4 of us have one half, and a Sergeant Major has the other half (rank has it’s privileges). It’s ok though, because over the weekend we took the time to build some walls in our half, and we split it into 4 separate little rooms, so now not only do I not have to live in a tent, but I also have my own room. Yes sir, life is getting better all the time here in Afghanistan.
Of course there is still no indoor plumbing. If I have to poop I have to either walk through the mud to a port-a-potty, or I can walk through the mud to a Latrine Cell. A Latrine Cell is basically a trailer with 4 toilets (they are tiny, and made of plastic but better than a port-a-pot) and 2 sinks. I also have to walk through the mud to get to the shower cells, which are the same as the Latrine cells, but instead of toilets they have showers and sinks in them. All of the facilities here have a nasty odor to them. They all get pumped empty and cleaned four times a day, but somehow they still stink of stale water and shit.
The B-Huts are made of a really flimsy plywood, which naturally gets very, very dry in this climate. We are not allowed to have any sort of electric heaters or candles in the hut, because it’s a Major fire hazard. Each hut is equipped with 2 fire extinguishers, and there is a giant ‘flight line’ fire extinguisher that is shared by 4 huts. Through our own efforts, and with the help of our Sergeant Major and our Supply Sergeant, we have actually made our hut a much nicer place to live than I had ever expected it could be. We built walls and shelves, and beds. I even have a real desk in my room, and some plastic drawer units that our Sergeant Major got us. It’s not much, but it’s a nice place to be able to come back to at then end of a long day.
I am still a bit lonely, and more than a little home sick, but all in all it’s not too bad. I have no real complaints. For now I am compiling a list of things to have sent from home to make life a little more comfortable. All I can think of so far that I want is a box of slim jims, some packets of ‘Crystal Lite to Go’ (they are the perfect size to mix with a half litre bottle of water), and a rheostat for a small project we are working on… We are building a ceiling fan for our hut. We have already installed the fan (a regular floor fan that we braced to the ceiling), but we want to install a rheostat and a voltage controller so that we can better control the speed of the fan. I’ll post some pictures when I can.