Sand Storm

December 14, 2007

So, occasionally I take a day off from saving the free world and propping up democracy in the middle east to relax and try to run some errands. One of my favorite past times here is to be able to sit in the patio area of the one coffee shop on post and not have anywhere to go for a while. I sit, sip my java of choice (usually whatever is least expensive), and read my latest Economist Magazine, if I have one. I watch people as they go by, and just enjoy the warm afternoon air in the shade.

Today it was very windy. In fact, when I went running earlier, I was making great time out on the first mile and a half, but the other mile and a half back I was slowed by the wind to almost a stand still at points. Where I was running, there is not as much sand as some portions of the base, so I was comfortable just running in shorts and a T-shirt.

I walked to lunch, and it was getting windy. I ate, and headed to the PX area where the coffee shop is. I couldn’t see 100 meters the wind was blowing so hard and so much dust and sand was being kicked up in the air. I had to keep my eyes squinted, by head down, and lean forward to make sure I didn’t get excessive amounts of sand in my eyes. This is why people wear even clear glasses during night here.  

I sat down. I had to put the coffee cup inside my patrol cap so it wouldn’t blow off the table. It was warm this afternoon, but the wind would swirl around me and I would feel cool on the one side. Time passed, I finished my coffee, and eventually couldn’t handle any more news or analysis. I grabbed my rifle, noting it looked rather dusty and that I was going to have to clean it later. Then I stood up and a cascade of sand fell off every crease in my uniform, off my shoulders, and when I ran my fingers through my hair, wafted out into the air. I gaped. I looked like a walking mudslide, the non-alcoholic kind.

That was me sitting for one hour outside, just to give you some perspective. I think if I had stayed in place all day, I would have just looked like a sand dune. Then I imagined what it was going to be like once the rain started turning all this mobile sand into mobile mud.

I can not wait for R&R.

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