We are nearly mid-way through the deployment. By now, most of us have settled into a routine. We are used to life in the desert.
Some things that I have gotten used to –
– Walking outside to use the bathroom. I think I miss this most – a bathroom inside! No need to get fully dressed or fully wake up just to use the bathroom.
The shower shoe flip-flops long ago disintegrated, surrendering to the gravel coating the ground. Their replacements – a pair of Croc-style ballet flats in a muted brown – are working beautifully.
– Mediocre Internet access. I finally broke down and paid for Internet. Sometimes paid Internet is faster; sometimes it’s not. When it does work, I get to listen to my favorite radio station, post to my blog and Skype with friends! It’s surreal (and fantastic) to see my friend 5,000 miles away and talk to her in real time. It’s unreal to listen to a radio commentator, listen to local D.C. commercials and to hear the latest songs from half a world away.
– Eating at my desk (whether in my room or my office). I have virtually stopped going to the messhall. The portion sizes and fatty/sweet foods prove too much for my willpower. It’s far easier (though more expensive) to eat my own food. I laugh now remembering the people who asked incredulously, “How are you going to eat?” At the time, I considered the question humorous. Surviving the messhall for a few months would not be that difficult, I was certain. Ha! They knew me better than I knew me. J
So please allow me to thank all of my family and friends who have sent me beautiful, fantastically healthy care packages! I am overjoyed each time I receive a package, knowing that healthy (and helpful) goodies to make my life a bit better are inside.
– Getting regular deliveries from Amazon.com (and spending more on food out here than back home). In as little as ten days (though sometimes as much as 3-4 weeks), I can have most of my favorite shelf-stable foods right here in Afghanistan. I have found oatmeal, cinnamon, protein powder, ready-made brown rice, quinoa, chickpeas, lentils, tuna, wild Alaskan salmon, protein bars and chia bars.
– Rediscovering the joy of reading for fun. It began with simple fiction sent from a dear friend. As I relaxed into books (a favorite childhood pastime), curling up on my camping chair at night, I sought more. In recent weeks, I’ve returned to classics, and am finally reading Walden. Losing myself in books has always been the quickest remedy to a long or stressful day. This is the easiest way for me to unwind at the end of the day, or the week.
– Having only one thing to focus on. My time is not split amongst a variety of activities. I no longer look at my watch, anxious for the end of the day, the next task or stressing about how I will fit everything I need to do into one day. My sole priority is work. In the evenings, I am fortunate to read or stretch. In the mornings, I am fortunate to workout before the day begins.
Life speeds along. I cannot quite believe that we will be planning our return in a couple of months. The weather has started to cool here. The high is only 97 instead of 120! The routine is finally settling down. I would consider staying for a year, but life calls. What an amazing experience this is turning out to be.