You and your fear are fenced in together. Nowhere to run to (Photo: Loesche)
A week after our return to Germany I’m still pretty knackered. Our embed with the Apaches in the dusty country called Afghanistan just lingers there, hasn’t completely sunk in yet. It was a physical and mental challenge, bigger than I had anticipated.
For now, I have found refuge in the microcosm of the work office, where things are orderly and clean and predictable. This is the settling back into “normal” life, the Western world wants the Afghans so desperately to share with us.
I like being back in Germany where people stand for five minutes at the red lights at the pedestrian crossing even though there are no cars to be seen for miles. On the other hand, I hear, the army sends their soldiers to some Mediterranean resorts to decompress for a week. I could have lived through that, no question!
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.