POSTCARDS FROM A SANDY PLACE #4 – Planes trains and automobiles

Well gentle readers, I have moved north to our new sandy place. The trip was not one I care to repeat, three days of taking every conceivable form of transportation known to humankind and the Army while lugging hundreds of pounds of luggage. I liken the trip to the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” (Mind you, I do not liken myself to John Candy!) However, there were a few good highlights which I can share.

After leaving the sandy place, we flew into the international airport
servicing our destination. There are many things I expected from a military airport, stark buildings, warehouses, the usual shoppette, food places, hundreds of soldiers standing around, smoking, joking, playing cards until the flight left. I had even heard rumor that it may have a Starbucks (unfortunately, false). This particular airport was very bare bones military airport – the waiting room was a tent, the “ticket counter” was in a tent, and the “baggage area” was really just a gravel area surrounded by concertina wire. Soldiers abounded, sleeping, eating, smoking, watching portable DVD players.

I am not surprised easily, TLRG fans. I have been to many airports in my life, domestic, international and military. Military airports are all exactly the same, tightly controlled, stark, lit with florescent lights and the exact same big screen TV tuned to CNN or Sports Center. Soldiers sprawl on the floor to sleep, weapons and gear strewn everywhere. And yet, even in our sandy place, life can be tres amusant when you least expect it.

We had just landed, pulled our bags off and were all sitting on our duffle bags in the “baggage area” outdoors, feeling rough, tough, soldier like while eating MREs. Hooah, as the Army likes to say. The last thing I expected to see in this place was civilians. Yet, no sooner had I finished my eating beef and broccoli breakfast when I saw the best non-sequitor of the journey. Three young Japanese touristy-looking women hurried bewilderedly by, dragging pricey designer wheeled luggage across the rocky gravel yard. They were dressed in the most expensive outdoor gear from North Face and REI, the lovely scent of perfumed shampoo wafted in their wake. They even giggled nervously and had cameras around their necks like tourists. They looked intimidated as they tried to squeeze by the hulking soldiers tossing bags into piles, however, much to their obvious relief, these young (male) soldiers parted like the red sea, mouths agape, duffles falling unheeded to the ground as the young women filed by onto the flight line for their flight. I guess airports are all the same, Japanese tourists and all!

Now, fear not, I had my own mouth agape moment. Sitting in the waiting area, bored out of my mind in the 11th hour of waiting for the next leg of our journey to begin, I saw the most handsome young French reporter stroll by. His hair was a perfect confection of slightly tousled natural brown curls, his nose aquiline to the perfect degree, his jeans had that perfect loose but still suggestive fit. Perhaps the years of hanging around soldiers have gotten to me, but I swear, I just had to ogle him as he crossed the breadth of the tent. A true mmm mmm mmm moment and a pleasant diversion from the endless wait of military transport.

It was a true journey of odd moments. On our last leg, we stayed overnight in a god-forsaken warehouse, no heat, no plumbing, just rows and rows of cots. You stumble outside to the port-a-potty and running water was whatever you had brought in your camel back water carrier. The most primitive of primitive. And yet, when we got up in the morning and headed to the camp chow hall, I dined on freshly baked quiche Loraine! Sometimes the Army can be downright schizophrenic.

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