Today’s mission: Shopping in the ‘stan

Southern Tag Ab, Afghanistan -- Today’s mission was actually to go shopping in the local villages. I bought some bread from these guys. After a tense couple of weeks, I didn’t mind this mission. (See pics here.)

Southern Tag Ab, Afghanistan — Today’s mission was actually to go shopping in the local villages. I bought some bread from these guys. After a tense couple of weeks, I didn’t mind this mission.

The past few days have been pretty rough for us. Tuesday insurgents shot at us during a TIC (Troops In Combat), and the week before that, our team was hit by an IED (improvised explosive device … a bomb.) Still, we continue going outside the wire to try to get projects completed before winter. (Once it snows, construction projects suffer.)

Usually, our missions are centered around our construction sites. But today’s mission was all about people. We suited up in our body armor and weaponry, as we always do when preparing to go out. But this time, we simply went shopping. (See pics on the Afghanistan Pics page.) 

We went to Nijrab district today, and we all took our cameras and some money and went shopping in the local bazaars. The intent was to meet some people and establish relationships so the people feel more of a connection with us than just our presence at construction sites. (Of course, if locals establish trust with us and feel comfortable sharing information with us, we would be appreciative.)

The Nijrab villagers were surprised to see us. Normally, when we see them, we’re stopping their cars and holding up traffic while we inspect projects. But this time, we were just there to give them some business and learn about the community. Once shop keepers realized we were just there to shop, the curious glares turned into smiles, and it was a nice shopping trip for the team. I bought Muna some scarfs and a unique nut mixture I know she likes.

I tried to find something for my little man, but most of the toys were not appropriate for his age. I did find a really cool toy AK-47 rifle, but it was too real-looking … The last thing I need is for Taj to get shot by New Jersey State Police for playing with a water gun!

Besides … Enough with the guns already.

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