Working as a contractor even in Afghanistan, you can make a lot of money and further your career. However, most of the people on bases are not here for the money and it’s not a matter of career positioning. We were reminded of that reality after we returned to work from dinner. Our Italian sponsored looked upset. We immediately recognized it and asked him, “What’s the matter?” He stated that something was not good. His English is limited so when we asked him what happened, he declined to explain it. The next morning we heard their fellow soldier(s) lost their lives. We’re not certain how many. Yet, the impact on the base was profound. A ceremony for one of their fallen soldiers took place and we attended to pay our respects.
The next morning, Justin and I prepared for yet another flight to another base. This one was even more remote. When we landed, all we saw was dust from the rear of the plane. After a moment or two, we saw more mountains and we were greeted by occasional loud bursts. Thankfully, there weren’t incoming shots, but tanks firing shots in the distance. After a week of travel, we returned to our home base no worse for wear.
My last week in Afghanistan was uneventful. I met more engaging people doing great work and who are very sharp. The lifestyle is not ideal. Yet, the work is important and the pay is good. I would’ve never considered working here previously. Yet, my experience here has brought the phrase, “Never say never” to the forefront again.
The day of my departure was long. I woke up at 4:40 AM to prepare for my 5:30 drive to the airport. With my colleague missing his flight a week earlier, my co-workers and I checked and re-checked the departure time. I arrived at the airport at 6:00 AM and waited for the 8:30 departure. We flew into Trabzon Turkey to refuel. Our time there lasted less than one hour and we were back on the plane to Copenhagen. We arrived in Denmark and I was already tired and I had reservations at a nearby hotel. However, I felt I was close to home and I didn’t want to stay away another night. I went to the ticket counter and inquired about a flight to London. After checking the schedule, the agent told me I could take an 8:20 PM flight. With the clock approaching 4:00 PM, it would be no problem passing the time.
Later that day, I boarded the flight and we arrived in London shortly after 9:20 PM. Now, I had to get my luggage, work my way through customs and grab a train from Heathrow to London, then from London to Huntingdon. Each train ride is an hour. So, I knew it would be another two hours and some change before I arrived at home. Yet, when I bought my ticket going from Heathrow Airport to downtown, it was after 10:30 and the ticket agent wasn’t certain I could catch the second train to Huntingdon. He thought they may have concluded for the day. I prayed there would be trains running because an hour long taxi ride would not be cheap. I arrived at downtown London shortly after 11:30 PM. Fortunately, there was another train to Huntingdon, but it wasn’t leaving until 12:36 AM, more waiting. I got on the train and had to fight the urge to contain my excitement at approaching home and not falling asleep thereby missing my stop. Twenty minutes from my stop I called a taxi so I could have a ride home. When I got off the train, the guy was waiting for me and it wasn’t a moment too soon because a fellow passenger was eyeing my ride. I live less than two miles from the station but the ride seemed much longer. However, I arrived at home shortly after 1:30 AM and I shortly afterwards I answered the bed that was calling me every since I arrived at Denmark.
I had an enlightening experience in Afghanistan. I met many people and gained some new friends. I thank God for the opportunity and hope and pray this war comes to a peaceful resolution. God Bless and Keep Shooting—pictures, that is!