Day 29: homecoming rituals
Today was our final day in the MEAO (Middle East Area of Operations) - tomorrow we start the trek home on a chartered A340.
One of the homecoming rituals is sorting through your kit and cleaning off the dust of Afghanistan. The laundry whirs as people wash and scrub everything so that it will pass the quarantine inspection. Some boots are too down-trodden to be taken home.
Day 28: Decompression
My room mate said to me at 9pm last night: "I feel like I should be doing something, that I should be working! I'm all fidgety and I can't sit still". She keeps checking her right hip for her pistol and her left hip for her military ID that she had to carry at all times on base. She has just returned to AMAB (Al Minhad Air Base) after spending six busy months working on logistics in Kabul. She worked 12 hour days that were punctuated by eating, sleeping and going to the gym. This is not "normal" life!
Day 27: Under her wings
Our one hour flight from Bahrain to Dubai turned into an 11 hour endurance test. After spending most of the night in the air waiting for a freak cyclone to ease and in the Bahrain transit lounge, we finally made it back to AMAB (Al Minhad Air Base) safely.
Rain is rare in the Middle East, but it has rained in every place we have visited. We seem to be taking it with us. I wonder if it will be raining in Canberra when we finally get home.
Day 21: up, up and away
Today we said goodbye to the magnificent mountains of Kabul and flew back to AMAB (Al Minhad Air Base). We were supposed to be going to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, but the flight was cancelled. I was a bit disappointed not to visit Kandahar, once the capital of Afghanistan and now the second largest city, but not much. If you’ve seen Ben Quilty’s painting of Kandahar, you’ll know why.