Finally, the full V.I.P. treatment on our way back through Sharana (Photo: Loesche)
Meanwhile, Axel and I are back in Kabul. We arrived here yesterday at the military part of the airport. We are scheduled to fly on tomorrow in the morning to Dubai. The further we get from our embed, the more we wind down. Now, that we have some time to gather our thoughts, we slowly realise how exhausting this journey really was.
Three weeks were plenty.
We left the COP Sar Howza late on Saturday after we had the encounter with the mullah and mujahedeen Tuti. We were driven to the 172nd’s headquarters by MRAP convoy to Sharana and got there at around 22.00. The brigade’s PAO Major Buccino was waiting for us. He showed us our rooms. I was lucky to get room V.I.P. 2 this time. (About time. Buccino had been promising us the whole V.I.P. treatment since we first got here!).
We boarded the C-130 Hercules at around 4.30 a.m. Our first military flight in Afghanistan. The palette with our luggage had just been loaded into the plane (Photo: Heimken)
The flight yesterday to Bagram – well, we didn’t make it. It didn’t take passengers after all – cargo only. The flight after that one – well we weren’t that lucky, they couldn’t take the usual pay load – it was too hot (I don’t know how the correlation works out). So we dropped off the low priority list for the flight: It’s all persons military first, then contractors, then journalists.
At the end of the day we were able to sign up for a 9:40 p.m. flight. We checked our luggage in and were sitting in the terminal watching the Boston Red Sox play on a flat screen. The lady from behind the check-in desk came into the waiting area and announced that due to maintenance work on the runway the flight was going to be delayed six hours.
We grabbed our sleeping bags out of our luggage which already had been put on a pallet ready for transport. Although this is a military airfield the terminal works in principle like any other airport, everybody still has to put their luggage through scanning, which seems a bit strange, because most soldiers travel with their guns at their side.