Sunday, May 06, 2012

Back at KAF

Vacation is over and I'm back in Afghanistan.  Right now I'm sitting at the State Department compound at Kandahar Air Field (KAF).  My scheduled flight to Maiwand didn't work out, so I'm waiting for another chance tomorrow.  Flight plans in Afghanistan are, as they say, subject to change without notice.

As is most everything else.  On the day I was to start my return trip, I got an email from Delta saying that the flight from Asheville to Atlanta was delayed.  That's the first time any airline has ever told me that in advance.  As there was a weather front moving in, I got nervous about making my connection on time, so I called them up and a very helpful lady quickly rescheduled me onto an earlier flight.  Kudos to Delta for this excellent customer service.  The revised plan, though, had me scrambling to shower, shave, pack, and go.  We got to the airport an hour prior to flight time.  I said goodbye to Janis and the two dogs.  It was difficult, but since we've done this before and this next stint won't be quite as long, it wasn't as bad as it has been.

One of the great things about a small airport like Asheville's is that everything is close by and the people are not harried to death.  From the time I walked in the door until the time I sat down at the gate was ten minutes.  That included checking in at the ticket counter, getting my boarding passes, and going through the screening process.  Not only that, but the Delta and TSA agents were friendly and chatty.  A wonderful change from the crabby cattle-herders at Dulles.

The trip to Dubai was not bad.  My early flight to Atlanta resulted in a 6-hour layover, but at least I knew I'd be there.  The Atlanta airport is a nice one, with lots of art throughout the concourses, quiet gates where I could watch a movie on my computer, and decent restaurants.  Then it was time for the 14 1/2 hour flight to Dubai.  I can't really sleep on airplanes and this time was no exception, but at least I was able to get up and move when needed.

Once in Dubai, I quickly cleared passport control and customs and got to my hotel for the night.  Tired and jet-lagged as I was, I still didn't get more than an hour's worth of sleep.  It's maddening to lie there, knowing you're worn out, and unable to drift off.  Up at 4 a.m. and out the door shortly afterward, over to the airport, and onto the flight to Kandahar.  We landed at KAF about noon.  I had a 5-minute walk to the State Department compound.  Before I could even drop my pack, I had friends and co-workers bending my ears about stuff going on at my home base in Maiwand.  Welcome home!

I thought I'd have two days to talk with people here and get back up to speed before catching a helo back to Maiwand.  As it turned out, I've got a few more days.  Flight plans come and flight plans go, and mine got up and went.  Without me, I might add.  So here I sit, waiting on the next chance.  I've got all my discussions with the folks here done, so now I'm trying to stay out of the way, which is easy enough to do.  But I'm ready to get back to my own little part of Afghanistan and get to work.

1 comment:

Debbie of Boise said...

I felt a tug in my heart when I read of your goodby to your loved ones at the airport. I appreciate your and your families sacrifice and the good work you are doing for the Afghan people and our country. God bless you. bring you traveling mercies and keep you safe.