Gazing into the sea

The soldiers from the North contemplate the sea

Pensive looks there, as we enjoyed the calming splash of water against the breakers and the warm breeze from the Persian Gulf, and talked about how close Iran was, just over the haze-cloaked horizon. It was a little escape from one prison camp to another, an all-day junket for work but also for sea-viewing and shawirma-eating.

We had to transport our measly three shelter trucks to the naval base for inventory, cleaning, and customs inspection, a task that should’ve felt like progress but really felt pointless, since two of the three trucks were never used. They came here on a boat, got shuffled around the camp from lot to lot, and will roll back onto a boat, never having been opened, except for inventory.

Civilians would be conducting the inventory, and they agreed to “start the day early,” saying they’d meet us at 0730. We arrived by 0700, and had enough time to make two runs to Dunkin Donuts, use the bathroom, and discuss everything wrong with our organization before the civilians arrived – at about 0845. “Starting early,” my ass.

The inventory went smoothly, although the civilians didn’t seem to know what most of the items were – several times, they’d read off an item (“AB-4289 antenna base? Got one of those?”), and I could’ve held up a ham sandwich and they would’ve checked it off the list.

After inventory, the vehicles had to be washed – can’t bring back any Kuwaiti sand, you see – so we had to drive them onto pairs of giant concrete wedges, angling them upwards to expose the undercarriage. Entering the wash rack, the ground guide pointed me to a set of ramps angled apart quite precariously; I was hesitant to approach but figured these guys do this every day so they must know what they’re doing. I gingerly nosed the truck up to the ramp and feathered the gas pedal, already formulating my statement for the accident investigation that I was sure to shortly follow. (Note that terms like “gingerly” and “feathered” are relative terms when driving a 15,000 pound truck that’s straining to climb a 20-degree slope, all while you’re trying to obey the precise directions given by the ground guide who’s almost completely obscured by the hood.) Somehow I didn’t steer the thing off the ramp, though, and managed to bail out of the vehicle and leave the thing in someone else’s hands. I swear the front passenger tire was halfway off the ramp (on the inside)…

Afterwards we enjoyed chicken shawirmas (kind of a gyro-like concoction, with chicken shaved from a rotating spit, then mixed with herbs & vegetables and wrapped in a tortilla or flatbread-like thing) and a trip to the pier, where the sea breeze washed over us and we furtively snapped pictures (trying to avoid the harbor facilities, lest the Coast Guard boat nearby train its .50-cal machinegun on us). Then it was back to the sandy waste of our own camp; it was the last time most of us would leave the place, until the end.

Speaking of the end, it’s almost at hand – our bags are packed, final packages sent, goods sold to the new guys or thrown away (we sold our 32″ LCD TV for what we paid, and got rid of chairs & rugs). I’m living out of one duffel bag until I return home, which isn’t as bad as it sounds, but it sure will be nice to return to the human world, what with the real furniture and indoor plumbing and non-brown environment and all that.