Today is the first day Jeff and I have had personal internet access in quite a while; 5 days or so. We've had access on some military and public computers at limited points, but no way to share pictures, video, and blogs easily. So that's been a bummer. But that's been reality. What's worse, is that we've been without our editing gear for just as long. We were advised that our computers would just get in the way at FOB Pasab and Ramrod cause we'd often be on the move and have no internet access or electricity. So we left the gear at Kandahar, but soon found out the advice we'd been given was wrong. Ever since we discovered we'd have the time, location, electricity, and internet for editing, we've been effortlessly trying to get our gear shipped to us; attempts that have been continuously unsuccessful up to now. The two hard-shell cases were supposed to arrive last night on a helicopter, but the bird broke down in Kandahar and our stuff got stranded for yet another night. Hopefully it arrives tonight like it's supposed to, but a sandstorm may further delay the flights. I'm not getting my hopes up, but Jeff and I could use a pleasant surprise at this point. We've gone as far as officially petitioning Allah for some help. We've heard he hangs out in Afghanistan a lot, so we're hoping he'll offer a hand (I kid, I kid).
The MIA editing gear hasn't been the only hangup. We had great difficulty getting from FOB Pasab to Ramrod. As detailed in the last blog, the convoy that was supposed to get us to Ramrod Tuesday, ended up getting us nearly to the base, but then turned around to go back to Pasab to transport the accompanying Colonel to a meeting (specifically a shura: a meeting with local Afghani leaders). Obviously the Colonel takes priority, but it was frustrating to waste an entire day just sitting around for nothing...in the 100 degree weather with no AC. Then the next day, Wednesday, there were no convoys going to Ramrod. Finally, on Thursday, we got put on another convoy (but not before finding out that our seats had been given away and having to lobby to get them back). We finally made it to Ramrod Thursday afternoon and got setup with sleeping quarters. Of course the air conditioning and electricity in that tent failed a few hours in and we got more lovely exposure with those searing temps. First thing on Friday, we worked some connections to get a unit that has internet access and AC (our lavish new trailer pictured below). But unfortunately and tragically, the base went on a day long 'black-out' of communication technology because a company of soldiers took some casualties. This practice is in place to protect and prevent families from finding out about the death of a loved one over the internet or through other unofficial channels. After all that, we're connected, comfortable, and anxious to edit the great deal of compelling video we've capture all along the way.
We've experienced a few trials and setbacks, but as I constantly remind myself, it's nothing like the challenges the soldiers have been facing for many months or years now. Tomorrow is the first time Jeff and I will share such experiences with the soldiers as we leave on our first full day mission with them in a few hours. On that note, I'd better get some rest. Below are some catch-up pictures that I haven't been able to post because of our lack of internet access.
Our new living quarters! Pretty deluxe.
A shot of the MATV driver during our first failed attempt at getting to FOB Ramrod. Just above me and to my left was a turret gunner who could spin around 360 degrees and fire huge explosive shells if necessary.
This was one of many arabic posters around FOB Pasab. There is a major presence of both the Afghanistan National Army and National Police on the different bases. So I'm assuming these are motivational posters of some sort. There were other posters in English for American soldiers as well. I remember one saying something like "What have we done for the people of Afghanistan today?"
Jeff and I are throwing back a Beck's "near-beer" at dinner. Alcohol is prohibited on post, so this non-alcoholic beer is as close as you'll get. It's pretty nasty stuff and obviously brings no buzz along with it haha, so we'll just have to wait till we get back home to enjoy a brewski again.
These names were on the incoming board at the Public Affairs Office at FOB Pasab. Apparently there was a mixup, because Jeff's last name isn't "Yang" and my first name isn't "Chris." Oh yea...we're not from Fox either haha! This was a running joke with the kind souls in the public affairs office. They were good sports and we actually made some good friends there.
These pics are out of order. Oops. This is Jeff in Kandahar, waiting with all of our gear for our Blackhawk flight to Pasab. Nope, there's no editing equipment here. Big mistake! Had we known better and not taken the advice we were given, we would have hauled it along. But as you can see, we already had A LOT of gear to be carried by two people and we wanted to travel as light as possible.
This is the shnazzy media badge on my body armor. Hopefully it will cue one of those kind thoughtful intelligent Taliban insurgents not to shoot me when they see it.
Even more out of order...this is Jeff and I packing up to head to the flight line in Kandahar to fly to Pasab. We got a call 30 minutes before this informing us we need to get packed up and ready to leave. That's a lot of gear to pack up in 30 minutes! Ahhh the unpredictable life of news vagrants...