As you can see by the picture, it’s snowing pretty bad in Afghanistan lately. (For my Facebook readers, Facebook is terrible at matching pics to blog posts. If the pic isn’t of me in front of some snowy tents, see the original posting at my website, www.darricklee.com.)
The snowflakes are very large, and they make a lot of muddy, sleety, mushy, goo once they mix with the Afghanistan dirt. We’ve driven MRAPS in the snow before, so I wasn’t really worried that it would be snowing heavily when we drove from Bagram to take me back to FOB Morales-Frazier, where my team lives and works.
While driving back, we witnessed a firefight between our French friends and some insurgents a few yards from the side of the road. Our PRT wasn’t involved in the fighting, but it was kind of awkward for us to be driving on the road and then have to interrupt the French, who were engaged in combat, by asking them if they could let us pass so we could continue on our way. They asked us to wait a few minutes while they fired a few significant shots at the bad guys, and our PRT watched the show from the safety of our MRAP windows. When there was a lull in the shooting, they yelled at us to hurry up and pass. I was kind of nervous … if you remember, this is exactly how my FIRST encounter with combat in Afghanistan started out!)
Luckily, we were safely able to continue driving until we got to the FOB.
My little space in our tent was just as I left it, only with lots more dust/dirt settled on it. But my office had another chair in it. While I was gone, a representative from the US Department of Agriculture set up shop in my office. She seems pretty nice, and according to Kevin Myrick, she knows her stuff. While the military engineers focus on helping Afghans with their rebuilding, USDA reps help them with their farming and animal-raising efforts. (Remember, civilians serve in war, too.) My PRT is leaving soon, but she’ll be sticking around long enough to work with the team that replaces ours.
Anyway, I jumped on the computer to see what I’ve missed during the couple of weeks I was visiting Muna and Taj. Of course, I had hundreds of emails, most of which were from the good-idea fairy. The bad thing about taking a vacation is that while you’re out of the office, the work just piles up. Plus, the person who is not in the room is always the “right man for the job.” So, when you return, not only do you have to catch up on all the work you didn’t finish while you were out, you have lots of NEW work to do since you weren’t in the office to defend yourself or draw straws when the “good” ideas were being batted about.
We’re getting shorter … I can begin counting how much time I have left in a matter of weeks. So, I don’t mind the extra work. Maybe it will make the time go by even faster.