Sunday, June 8, 2008
Pronounced variously KOTter, kuhTAR, or even GHATter. Shown is my buddy Don Sylvester and me at Mullarkey's Irish Pub at the Qatar base that is HQ for Central Command covering the Middle East and southwest Asia. We are here for our allowed 4 day pass. We headed to the main airbase in Afghanistan 3 days ahead of time as instructed since flights from Herat are irregular. We got there fine but we then bumped by a general from our scheduled flight to Qatar. Over the next 3 days, we were bumped from another flight and 6 others were cancelled. On very short notice (actually no notice, I happened to check the air terminal and got lucky), we caught a cargo flight that left at 3 AM and landed at sunrise in Qatar.
We get to wear civilian clothes, sleep in comfy berths, eat at restaurants and hoist some brewskis. Tours and fun things like desert safari, boating, fishing and diving are available. It is a great break from the routines of deployment.
Since we are almost to the start of summer, daily highs are ~110 and it "cools off" at night to about 90. Very humid too since Qatar is a 100 mile peninsula off Saudia Arabia sticking north into the Persian Gulf, oops, Arabian Gulf. It has the highest per capita income in the world and gives all citizens free health care and education through college. It gave women the vote 12 years ago, women hold important posts and some degree of western dress is allowed. Only 1/3 of the population are citizens; the rest are foreigners brought in to do the actual work.
When I get back to Camp Stone, we will have less than 2 months to go!