Field Trip!

So day before yesterday I’m hiding out in my office. It’s the 4th day in a row that I have actually been busy. I go about 3 months filling up my day working and working (on the internet) and working (visiting) and working (wandering) and it’s like all of a sudden people realize they have computers and problems and an IT guy. Hey! A match made in heaven! Of course, as always it was all silly stuff, but that didn’t stop me having to move back and forth across camp all day long. It is a definite change to go from “I make myself busy doing things” to “I am very busy, how am I going to work in those other things?”

Quick side trip here: I do more before 9 AM than you do ALL DAY! That’s because, you know, your 9 AM is my 9 PM. Ha. Sigh…this is a tough audience.

Anyways, earlier in the day I had been conversing with some folk, and we talked about getting off base, even if there isn’t much to see. Even if there isn’t much to see, there aren’t endless seas of tents and this crappy rock surface to see. That works. So later a party unrelated to that conversation pops his head in the door and mentions going to the airport, do I wanna go? Can I get a Hell Yeah? Oh well, I don’t even know if Steve Austin still wrestles anymore. So I get all giddy excited. I am a simple person, and simple things make me happy. I don’t really care much about the big stuff. I hop out of my chair and go tearing out after him. I think a party to the previous conversation had made the suggestion, since that individual was there (one of our translators.) Either that, or Mr. Medic passed it on, or it was simple luck and good timing.

Got to driving out, go through 3-4 of the Uzbek checkpoints. Get to show the nifty ID get a couple of times. They don’t seem as interested if you don’t have any bags in the vehicle. We were only going to buy a ticket for someone, so that wasn’t an issue.

Getting out and driving I realized even more how much like Colorado this place is. Aside from all the Uzbeks and the buildings and stuff, that is. There’s a mountain range close by, but farther out than in Denver, while still visible. Lots of rolling hills and plains type area. More little trees, not so much scrub. Sheep and cows just wandering around. Sometimes there are sheperd-type folk watching them…err..in the same general vicinity as them, and sometimes I don’t see any at all. Not much in the way of fencing, they just meander where they will. We don’t hit any this trip. In any case, the rule is that if you hit something or someone you keep going, get your ass (and the rest is also invited, of course) back inside the gate. The kids and and some of the adults seem happy to see us and wave and holler in a friendly way, though some simply watch instead. I am sure some people don’t want us here, but don’t sense any aggression. Even so, we are still somewhat of a curiosity. They won’t really have the chance to hate us so much until we can get off base more easily. At that point the money spent may make a difference, but it may not.

There’s a lot of idleness. People seem to wander around, and some you expect probably don’t move much at all in a given day. This is not to say that there isn’t anything going on, but you definitely have a different pacing. Our interpreter, who is very cool with quite good English gives a running commentary on things we pass. We go through a stop light or two, and move through some traffic circles. I am happy that we are actually going through Karshi town, since my one previous trip we’d gone around the outskirts of town and didn’t see much. Much of the construction is sloppy and falling apart, and the new stuff manages to look old even as they are building it. I seem to recall seeing much more signs in Russian while we were in Tashkent, there are very few here it seems, almost all are in Uzbek instead. I can say please, hello, and I have the sense of which word is building, and which is school.

I went to breakfast. I think I lost my train of thought.

Anyways, it’s always an eye-opener being in the third world. I mentioned it earlier, but the fortress mentality is even stronger here than what I saw in Tashkent. Defensible blocks and walled compounds. Lots of ways to say “don’t come in here.” I don’t know the people well enough to say this indicates they would be unfriendly, in fact from what I have seen it’d be the opposite. But I suspect they have long memories here. Americans have been doing the asskicking for so long any memories of being invaded or dominated by someone else have disappeared.

We left the airport (not much happening there, nothing really to say) and headed back the same way I had been some months before. I recognized the first stop light as we got to it though, so I am catching on to the lay of the land. We got waved through the gates on the way back, not apparently having been gone long enough to generate any interest.

It is hard to catch the feeling of (almost) adventure I had, but it was there. Again, not much impressiveness to be seen, but it is interesting to see other people, have some idea how they live. What are their cares and concerns in life? I got a small peek at least. Want more.

2 Responses to “Field Trip!”

  1. Imported Comments Says:

    From lil’ red:

    Ahhhh, so there is life outside of the berm LOL.
    With any great story that you hear, what is usually left out is the in between of “wandering, visiting, sitting around, yawwwwwn, fixin’ thangs”.

    Googled the Steve Austin ref…..ummmm, nothing like expanding boundries of knowledge. Famous move … the Stone Cold Slammer.
    So are you wearn’ o’ the Green today? In Camoflauge maybe?

  2. Robert Says:

    Just a shirt — of course now it’s over. No camo is allowed here for us. I’m not sure why exactly, the DoD civilians are in BDUs, some of the other contractors seem to wear a mix. No big deal.

    And of course I leave some things out. Some because they are not interesting, and others because maybe they are better left unsaid. Sometimes it’s important to be discreet and respect people’s privacy. Sometimes I experience things I don’t exactly know how to characterize and I just sit on them. It’s simpler that way. I can ramble on badly when I know exactly what’s going on, and when I don’t, well the scenarios build themselves too quickly and easily. Rolling Eyes

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