Sand Through My Toes

My big adventure in the sand

Redemption Island…. Still Sent Away

            The powers to be that oversee the Language Branch and are obviously in a different pay grade than I am, determined it was time for Francine and Richard to move on!  Well, that was the last Sunday in January —  and thanks to cancelled flights, bad weather and just not having any flights at all, they were able to try to redeem themselves with a stay on Redemption Island for a whole week! After the week was up, and “de plane, de plane” was able to fly again, it was determined that they were not going to be accepted back on the compound and were sent on their way!  It has now been one week and I still find myself saying before bed “Don’t worry Francine, the alarm is set!”, “Yes, we are going to the gym after class!” or “Shall we get a Chai Tea Latte tomorrow instead?”  The guys in the compound have been great and they have filled in as my ” battle buddy” — you know, although packing some heat, still not allowed to travel alone! I wonder if any of them would want to stop by the Beauty Shop with me —  I don’t think I’ll press my luck so soon into this little niche! I do miss Francine and Richard dearly but do wonder how much longer I’ll get enjoy my quarters to myself??  I’ll keep you posted……  

Francine packing up her goodies….  for some reason, can’t upload the other pic!

Francine Packing It Up

Six Months……Bitter Sweet!!

Holy Head!  YES,  I have been here for six fantastic months and have six more to go, but really let’s call it 5 months and 1 week because I still have my rest and relaxation  (R&R) time!

After being in the sand for this long, I have learned how to repeat the same outfit in a two-week period, to bite my tongue and just go with it, that the DFAC is truly the Dining Facility and yes, it does get tiring having someone else make your meals for you every day.  There is a huge difference between a teacher and an instructor and I have learned to appreciate the green around me (which are the uniforms of those protecting me) b/c the only color here is beige and then some more beige!

Being here with the same great girl to experience all this with has been another plus!  To be able to development a lasting friendship with another person, who happens to teach in Korea, has made the first six months (plus one month of training)  fly by!  But now the time has come for her to move on to another site and touch the lives of those just beginning to learn how to speak English!  Yes, Francine will be moving on Friday morning and I will miss her being here with me!  Although it will be quite the adjustment being the only girl on staff, I am positive that I’ll have some of my military friends in the compound drag me along to dinner with them!! 🙂

I haven’t forgotten where I come from with the help of my wonderful friend Laura — thank you for  your patience and skills — and making me smile every day  as I proudly  display the American flag!  Miss you all and can’t wait to see you stateside in 6 months or back “home” for the wine fest — ah, to have a beverage!  I believe my body just shook from withdrawals!!  🙂

 

Flag Quilt

 

Alright, Alright

I have learned my lesson and won’t post boring pics of a “Grand Opening” sign.  I do have to say that it was hot news around here and talk of the town, so I figured it was an interesting pic b/c the beauty shop is inside a trailer surrounded by stones and hescos (barricades).  

Although I don’t respond to many comments that are posted, I do read them all! SO, here is a pic of my eyebrows — a week later.  Be kind when posting your comments about the look!  By the way, I will take string any day over duct tape!  Duct tape is powerful and my gosh, painful — not nice PMS!  

Thin Eyebrows

 

 

Patience, Daily Dose Necessary!

Patience is something that you have, that you don’t have, that you are constantly trying to obtain or better yet, realizing what it takes to extend the length of it in your own mind! Let it be from the mice running around the office, to understanding the leadership abilities of some,  or the incompetence when it comes to splicing together internet cable lines that were inadvertently cut!! Yes, for a whopping eight days, internet was down here at our compound — not the gvt. internet, only for all the folks in their private quarters. SO, do you go into the office at night, put your feet up and try to ignore the sounds of little feet scurrying about while avoiding the peanut butter filled traps, or breathe deeply and know that some day soon I’ll be able to update my blog in the privacy of my own room?  I chose the latter and am happy to report that the internet is now up and working 🙂

There are many changes taking place here around the compound and one of those is the addition of a beauty shop!  Yes, a beauty shop that offers mani/pedis — for a whole 20 bucks for both, more if separate; massages, facials, hair cuts, hair coloring/highlights (and boy do I need some to hide some grey but am a bit apprehensive), eye brow shaping — not with wax, but string — 5 bucks!  I have to say that I believe I lost a pound when I went and had my caterpillars tamed!  Francine says they look nice and I too think so but they are a bit too thin.  After talking about the string and wondering if there was anything tacky on it to stick to the eyebrow hairs or does the string just rip the hair out of its follicles, we both decided that  yep they are a bit thin for my face.  For now, glad to have lost a pound of eyebrow hair and for the cheapest I have ever paid to have them maintained — 5 bucks!!

Grand Opening

Beauty Trailer

Ringing in 2013!!

Well, 2013 was rung in quite differently than any other new year in my life —-except when I was a small child, for sure!  Francine and I made the best of our situation by only briefly thinking about New Year’s Eve.  To us, it was just another day in the sand!! Having to work today, we toasted to our health, our family and our loved ones, and were snug under the covers and asleep by 11:00.  Yeppers, very different from years past!

Where ever the New Year found you, hopefully you were able to get in a great hug and a kiss on the cheek!! Here’s to a healthy, prosperous and loving 2013!  I do have to say though, watch out New Year’s Eve 2014 — I won’t be in the sand!!

PS:  Don’t be jealous of our beverage!!

Ah, Paper Champagne

My ear is thirsty!

Friendly Faces for Feeding Time…..

 

Christmas could not have been complete without all the hard work from my favorite people at the dining facility!  The workers at the DFAC put in 14 hour days, six days a week, and smile the entire time they are there.  Well, part of it might have to do with the friendly patrons that greet them so excitedly every day they come for their lunch and dinner (yes, of course, those patrons would be Francine and I!)  Below you can see the big smiles of those that serve up our meals to us — tasty lobster, shrimp, and steak on Fridays and if I am lucky, grilled cheese on Wednesdays!  Better yet, the grill guy knowing that I appreciate my onions grilled for my cheeseburger and when he sees me waiting in line, he starts grilling them up until it’s my turn!!!  Oh the joys of knowing what will be on the menu week in and week out — and people wonder why we end up at the Italian pizzeria every once in a while!

Plus, forgot to post the pic of my bedroom door — a few of the greeting cards received to help make my “bunk” feel like my home in Wiesbaden!  Thank you, thank you, and thank you!!

Pic 1 – My bedroom door;  Pic 2 — Thanks for the sparkling wine guys;  Pic 3  — Francine and I with my favorite grill guy;  Pic 4 —  The dessert guy (always ready with an oatmeal raisin cookie) and the one who is always asking about Rambo  🙂

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Christmas in Shindand

 

Charlie Brown TreeOne would think that being in a Muslim country that it would be difficult to celebrate Christmas –well, thanks to family and friends, the thought didn’t even cross my mind!  My fabulous Mom started off the holiday season by sending me a lovely Charlie Brown Tree with my own mini stocking, that I just love, and then wonderful friends from Germany sent a lighted tree that joined the other.  Then every few days an email would come from the Air Force mailman that I have a package to pick up at the post office trailer!  Did I ever mention that I love mail? Any who, presents arrived and helped to keep the Charlie Brown tree and the regular tree company!

After having a tasty Christmas lunch at the DFAC, yes we had lobster tails with sparkling red wine :-(, we all loaded up into the suburban and made our way back to the compound.  First though, we had to make sure at all the security check points the guards enjoyed a traditional candy cane —  from their inquisitive stares, the jury is still out!!  Arrived to our quarters and Francine and I gathered around our trees and celebrated Xmas!  Sorry to say that we didn’t participate in the singing of Xmas carols but we did listen to a little Nat King Cole…..

Thank you to everyone who helped make this Christmas away from family and friends a whole lot easier!

Merry Christmas from the Sands of Afghanistan!!  Thinking of all of you…….


Charlie Brown/Mini Tree
Presents


Our Door Our stockings

So Proud …. 14 Future Pilots!!

I am not sure if it is the Ticonderoga Testing Pencil, the long days of teaching, the English immersion 24 – 7 with access to the teachers as they walk to and fro from the bathroom, eating in the DFAC, or just sitting on the bench in the courtyard, and/or the hard work put forth by the students that want to fly and improve their country that had 14 students receiving their English Language Completion certificates at graduation!!  Another successful group of future pilots are on their way and are now attending pilot training with the military and some contractors, too!!

For the next three months, 4 DoDEA teachers and 2 DLI Instructors will do their best to ensure that another group of wanna be pilots will graduate and walk the stage in early March to receive their diploma!   With the success rate that we have had, we expect anywhere between 10 – 14 to graduate once again — there are 38 students in the program ranging from 40 – 70 on the English proficiency exam, with 80 being the magic number to graduate!   Thank goodness I still have Ticonderoga’s to pass out on test day!! 🙂

Here are some pics with the students — some graduates, some still in the program!  In my handwritten journal, “Only This Shit can Happen Here” has many funny stories about some of the students that will need to be shared over a few beers and not here! Thank goodness the abundance of pics will be able to accompany the stories…….

 

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Holy Cow, 4 Months!!

Hi Everyone!  Yes, I know, it has been quite some time since my last post but I figured “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and this way you just may be excited to read about my latest happenings!!  So much has happened since my latest update, where to begin!

Spent a lovely 8 day holiday break at the end of October in Bagram and Kabul — yes, I vacationed in Kabul!  Who can say they have done that??  It wasn’t all fun and games b/c I was there for Professional Development — for only 3 days!  The other 5 days were spent traveling from my lovely base to Kabul, and then on to Bagram to get home!  Guess what happened though for a lovely 3 days —  you got it, stuck in Bagram — manifested on a flight, flight cancelled; try again…make it on board, fly for an hour, and oops, must turn around due to bad weather and not able to land — aargh!!  Try again two days later, and wahlah, home sweet home! It’s hard to imagine but I was extremely excited to be back at my own compound with my own things and my own bed!!

Thanksgiving was bittersweet b/c even though I was able to spend it with Francine and a few of the many friends that we have made here,  I wasn’t able to have everyone over to my place to enjoy a great tasting feast,  play Scrabble and/or Rummikub, watch a football game, and enjoy a few adult beverages!  (damn, I miss that! )  I must say that the Dining Facility provided a great Thanksgiving meal for all of us — as you can tell from the pictures below!! Yes, they made green bean casserole, LOBSTER, sweet potatoes to perfection, pumpkin pie (minus the cool whip for some reason), and shrimp cocktail to boot!  My goodness, check out my plate!  We even had sparkling wine and egg nog!  One thing was missing, leftover turkey sandwich during halftime of the Dallas game.  There is always next year :-).

Three months ago we had graduation for the second class of 15  pilots and tomorrow is graduation for the third class!  Very excited to say that 13 students are moving on to pilot training, while 26 will continue in the intensive English program. We’ll receive a about a dozen more in the next two weeks to join us, too!   Tomorrow morning they will receive their diploma and on Saturday, the graduates begin training for their new flying career!  So proud of the students and look forward to meeting my new students that I will have for the next 3 months!

Will update soon about graduation and my new students.  Thank you all so much for your supportive emails and care packages! I appreciate all you do to make this experience a bit more enjoyable!!  

Three Month Anniversary

Nine fun months left in the sand — but if I count my R&R, a little over eight months to go!  Although I left Germany on June 14th to arrive in Indianapolis and spent over a month and a half “training”, I have been boots on the ground for three months!  So far it has been an incredible journey that began with lugging duffel bags and excess gear that I am still not sure that I need, to building new classrooms, and meeting so many interesting people!  Teaching is great, my students continue to be eager to learn and have me learn about their culture and dreams for the future!

From a bus ride, to a plane ride, to an MRAP ride, to a Black Hawk ride, and then finally on to my final destination, it has been a hoot with friends I have met along the way!  Three months has gone by rather quickly with the help of new friends, family, old friends (not in age), funny emails, Skype, Face Time, and of course, receiving packages! Please continue to do what you are doing to make the next nine months bearable!

Here I am in the blue bus that transported us to all the different venues on base to prepare us for our departure, and  here is Jessica and I on the bus bound for Indianapolis Int’l Airport, and finally, sitting down in our seats getting ready for the long flight to our final destination – Francine, Jessica, and I!

 

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