19 May 2014

First Impressions of the Province's Second-Greatest City


“You’ll love the poop pond,” is what one Afghanistan veteran told me on Facebook the other day. A full-bird colonel said he heard it stank here.

Welcome to Kandahar Arifield—“KAF” colloquially.

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It’s really not that bad. At least the odor. The infamous poop pond is nowhere to be smelled, though there are other olfactory inconveniences that go with housing large numbers of soldiers in close proximity.

We arrived in the evening of 10 May. It was warm, but not hot. It felt a lot like Las Vegas in the Spring. We entered through a terminal that looked like it was at one time a 19th-century public building. I surmised that the stucco and brick, arched building was the original civilian airport. Some folks here told us later that it is called “TLS,” or “Taliban’s Last Stand.”

We got on a bus with our gear and headed to the billets. We live in “mods,” or modular housing. They are steel buildings with separate four-man rooms and common latrines and showers. Air conditioning works well, so I can’t complain, although it seems I’m going to become intimately familiar with every single one of the springs on my mattress.

If I had to choose one word to describe this place: DUSTY.

I removed about a quarter inch of dust from the top of my wall locker thinking, “man, this place hasn’t been cleaned since it was built!” Now I’m not so sure.

The sun rises at 5:30 out here. I guess that’s the half-hour time difference. So while it’s noon in Salt Lake City, it’s 10:30 at night here. I say as long as we’re imposing democracy, let’s get the Afghans on the same hour intervals as the developed world.

Food is okay. There are three dining facilities here, all within walking distance from where we live: Niagara, which used to serve food the Canadians could stomach, I assume; Cambridge, which features British fare; and Far East, with Asian food. So far steak burgers at Niagara are the best, followed by fish and chips at Cambridge. The Fish and Chips are really good, but honestly, the burgers are on par with Smashburger.

I asked Prax what word she’d use to describe KAF. She said, “brown.” I still say DUSTY.

It’s nice to see the military going green. When we wash our hands in the the D-Fac, we dry them on Dyson air hand dryers. Reminds me of going to school at the U, where the greatest virtue seems to be one's allegiance to "sustainability" intiatives.

There is an MWR tent and a gym tent next door. I use the term "tent" in the sense that they are shaped like tents; they were long ago sprayed with some foamy stuff that has hardened and encrusted the buildings like the library at the climax of Ghostbusters II. Insulation, I am told.

KAF would be one of the largest cities in the country, the second largest in Kandahar province. As such, there are ammenities one would expect in a small town. Donuts, coffee, shops, that sort of thing.

Importantly, there are bunkers in case of rocket attacks and palettes of water everywhere.

My main complaint is that internet for personal use isn't widely available. A hundred dollars a month (yes, you read that right) will get you a connection that could pass for most uses. Anything cheaper is useless.

All in all, KAF is a really great place. There is only a bit of sarcasm, of course, but remember, it's only week two. 



3 comments:

  1. http://www.ilovebagram.com/index.php

    This will amuse you. Replace all the BAF references with KAF references and it will all make sense.

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  2. Considering that it could be one of the largest cities in the country means we've been there way too long. Not sure what Prax's worst travel experience is, but my top three all involve the Army ;)

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    Replies
    1. Prax's experience is in the earlier post, and probably not unlike your Army ones.

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