Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Life lately

I've been out here for over three months now. I haven't written about it, I haven't taken very many pictures. I've been trying to embrace the differences, see the beauty, enjoy the journey, etc. etc. For the most part, I've failed.

It started with the arrival and drive out here. We were in a tandem of four buses and several pickup trucks with armed, plain-clothes security forces members. We drove the hour or so from the International Airport to base.  We had to keep the curtains drawn, but I was sitting up-front and could see out the driver's window. The roads are in poor conditions. Some areas didn't have lines separating the lanes. Broken down cars and trash lined the highway close to any civilization. Imagine if everyone threw their garbage out the window of their car, and no one picked it up. That's what it's like over here. There are piles and piles of trash lining the highway, and collecting in the median strips.

The landscape is flat. Growing up in the Midwest you think you know flat. Roadtrips through fields upon fields of corn and soybeans were interminably dull. You didn't notice, though, the billowing clouds. The creeks you pass. The pastures with slight hills and cows. Those variations in view and grade; you don't notice them until they're gone. Until you're here. The only variations are man-made. The only changes in terrain are from defensive sand-berms.

The pale and cloudless sky is constantly hazy with dust. Everything is dust. Not sand. Dust. The only vegetation is scrub brush - brambles, small shrubs.

On base some opportunistic weeds that crop up from the water that drips from the A.C. units.

Desert, symbolic of emptiness and aridity, leaves you thirsting for home.  The scales fall from your eyes when you're in a situation like this. You realize how rich your life was, and how precious. How have I not appreciated the amazing people in my life until now? I've taken everything for granted. From being able to talk with the people I care about, to being able to wear or eat what I want, to being able to sleep in a comfortable bed. (Or sleep at all!).

I've been trying to take it a day at a time, and that is continuing. I focus on doing my job well and the light at the end of the tunnel: going home. There are good things about being out here...
1) Some of the people.
2) Ready-made free food.
3) Being within walking distance of the places I need to be.
4) Being unable to sleep has led to a lot of reading. I've read more so far this year than I usually read in an entire year when left to my own devices.
5) The wildlife. I've been unlucky in most of my pictures, but have seen lizards, varied birds, and a fox!

6) The sunsets. While most of them look like this:

Occasionally, they look like this:

Or this:

The flat terrain let the colors take over the entire sky.

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