I said goodbye to my family on Monday night, and headed down to LAX. My uncle Akio let me stay at his place, and we woke up at 4Am in order for him to take me to catch my 6AM flight to Dallas, TX (3 hour flight). From there, we caught the charter flight on North American Airlines to Leipzig, Germany (11 hour flight), and after a short break onward to Kuwait City (5 hour flight). Luckily for me, I got to sit in first class again, which helped me to catch sleep during this long flight.
From KCI, we took buses over to Ali Al Salem, where I’ve stayed since last night. It’s basically a big tent-city, and it looks a lot like this:
It’s not so bad here this time. It is extremely hot, and walking outside around noon feels like a blast furnace:
Aside from being a very long flight, the trip went reasonably well this time. It’s weird to be back in Kuwait. The two things that hit me were (1) walking on gravel all the time; and (2) having the strange smell in all the toilets from the odor chemicals that they use here. Iraq is a bit nicer, in that it has more paved walkways, and no chemical toilet smells everywhere. I’m actually looking forward to being back in Iraq, a sentiment that is common among folks here. The only problem I’ve had so far is that when I took a shower last night, someone swiped my PT clothes (physical training clothes), and so I had to walk back to my tent wearing only a towel. It was midnight, and nobody saw me, so really the biggest problem was losing a set of PT’s and having to buy another today. You don’t want to wear any more clothes than necessary in this oven.
It’s a desert out here. Not quite as bad as Camp Buehring, because there are a few blades of vegetation here and there. But it is hot and sandy for the most part. Here’s a picture of me at the edge of the base, standing in the 115 degree heat:
When you are in the Kuwaiti desert, remember to drink LOTS of water, and wear chapstick, as you get dried out very quickly.
Today, I am sitting in the USO tent, where there are dozens of folks playing games, watching TV or movies, talking on phones, or using their laptops and enjoying the free, but slow, wi-fi internet in this tent. I phoned my family, and everyone is doing well. The food is good at the Dining Facility (DFAC, which is open 24 hours here), and although I’m a bit jet-lagged again, I’m doing fine.
I’ll update again when I reach Balad. Hard to believe that I have 90 days or so left before I can go home for good!