Sunday, May 21, 2006

At Qatar

Dateline: Qatar

I went running today. They have a quarter mile track bull-dozed out of the desert sitting just outside of the cantonment area they call Coalition Compound. Actually, accept for the fact that the track is mostly flat, it’s basically the same as the surrounding desert. It’s been a while since I ran in this kind of heat!! Luckily, there’s a fairly steady breeze that cools things down a bit.

The base itself is huge. Most of the structures are either tents or cheap looking trailers of corrugated aluminum. I live in a large tent shaped like an old Quonset hut with 38 other guys, mostly fire dawgs (firefighters). There are 19 wooden bunk beds, one light bulb, and an unplugged refrigerator in the corner – the billeting folks say we can’t use it because it’s a fire hazard.

Beside the hangers and workshops you’d expect for an air base of this size, there is a small BX (in a tent), a library with hardly any books, a 24-hour theater, and a chow hall (my tent is four tents away from being the farthest from the chow hall). Oh, and an all-night coffee shop where I go in the morning to read the gulf times and pretend that I’m at the Royal Oak Starbucks with Keith.

The bathrooms are all trailers set on 3-foot pilings for some reason. All of them have 2 large plastic water tanks in the back (I hesitate to imagine what the seond one is for), and most have a smelly brown puddle that creeps out from underneath, which I avoid.

Much of the cantonment area is covered with a whitish pea gravel in order to keep the dust down. This works well, but the trade off is that the reflected sunlight is absolutely blinding. I squint even with my sunglasses on. It’s 0645 and I’m in the library writing this before our day starts. The lines for the internet café are about an hour long, so I may not send this for a while. I received a really nice email from Lisanne yesterday. Tell everyone to write to my TRANSCOM account as all civilian emails seem to be blocked. Take care.

NOTE FROM ADMIN: Marks email now is:


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