A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being able to take an R&R pass to Qatar. A pleasant benefit that sadly, not every soldier gets. I am fortunate. The purpose of the trip is to have the opportunity to relax and unwind a bit, to wind down from the constantly high Operational Tempo of war.

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In any case, while I was there I was able to relax, rest, update my web sites a bit, read and write e-mail, chat with people at home and even make a few phone calls. All of which seem luck great luxuries. Below are some photos from that trip. To those of you who keep up with my blog on a regular basis, I apologize for the delay getting these posted, and for the fact that this post is chronologically out of order with the rest…

We were carried from war to our destination on a BIG plane… a C-17.

The inside of the plane was full of uncomfortable people, and HUMVEE Tires…

When we got there we had DELUXE living accomodations. If you can’t tell, these are tents inside of a building. It actually really was very nice, but more importantly it was VERY well Air Conditioned.

I don’t know what city this is. I took the picture from the plane on the way there. All I know is that it is somewhere along the Saudi border with the Arabian Gulf.

I got to go on two separate trips while I was in Qatar. One was to the ‘City Center Mall’, and the other was the ‘Inland Sea Picnic’. Both were a lot of fun. There are a lot of rules in Qatar, one of which is that you are not supposed to take any photos of the Locals, unless they expressly permit it. That combined with the fact that I was there alone made it a little tricky to get many good photos…

The first trip I went on was to the ‘City Center Mall’ in downtown Doha…

Doha is a large, beautiful and surprisingly modern city. It is very clean and looks very American, with the exception of it’s populace.

This is the entrance to the City Center Mall

The center of the mall was a giant ice-skating rink. The logistics of an ice skating rink alone, in a country that gets well over 120 degrees seems incredibly decadant. The Qatari people are fabulously wealthy.

The mall has a childrens area, with a large jungle gym complex. Larger than any other I had ever seen.

I went to a rug shop. I could not afford to buy any of the rugs but the shop keeper was kind enough to allow me to take photos, and to give me a lovely tour of the shop and a lengthy explanation of how the rugs are made, and why they are so valuable. He was remarkably hospitable despite the fact that I told him several times I could not make a purchase. He never pressured me.

Not only was I not pressured, but he was kind enough to share a nice Chai with me while we discussed the rugs.

He showed me how the artist signs the rug.

How the market tags the rug.

He showed me that if you look carefully at the back of the rug, you can see the painstaking detail put into it. This rug is 100% silk. There are 144 hand-tied knots per square centimeter. The work is mind boggling.

The mall had many Jewlery Stores. And despite the fact that the Jewlers only charge for the weight of the metal and the size of the gems, not the craftsmanship, I still couldn’t afford anything… But again the shopkeepers were kind enough to allow me to take pictures.

I saw a brand new Bentley in the parking lot for the first time ever!

The second trip I went on was the inland sea picnic by the Arabian Gulf (Persian Gulf)…

Qatar has fabulous, brand new roads. Something I have become un-accostomed to.

Oil pipelines run along those roads and serve as a nice reminder of what we are all over here dying for.

Hightailing it accross the Desert in 4 wheel drive, is more fun than can be described in pictures…

Before we could speed accross the sands we had to lower the tire pressure. While our driver did that there was only one thing for me to do…

…pose for and take photos.

The Arabian Gulf is incredibly beautiful, and amazingly warm. It was as warm as bath water. Which is not surprising considering it was 135 degrees outside… It was great to see the ocean again. It made me feel at home. And the humidity, for the first time in my life, was very welcome.

I walked along the beach. It was a nice chance to relax and think.

I collected shells.

Caught fish.

And saw adisturbingly large number of crystal clear jelly-fish. I am glad no one got stung on the trip, because I was the only medic around… Armed with my trusty CLS bag.

A local arrived on a camel to enjoy the beach.

He asked that we did not get near the Camel but did not mind photos being taken.

There were tents, but it was much hotter in the tent than it was outside.

So I sat outside.

All in all it was a very enjoyable trip. But now I am back in Afghanistan…

I have to keep my head in the game, while doing my best to keep my conscience clear.

I am looking forward to going home on leave in August.

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