Chinese stars, a meat market and scarves
It’s Friday and it actually feels like Friday. The day started (officially) at 1 pm. My body started the day a lot earlier than that so I unpacked everything, field dayed and read a bit.
Couple of things to share (no, I didn’t make a list, pardon me if I wander.)
I left the ‘Ville yesterday for the first time. We went to… another base where someone with a LOT of rank works. (as in the most rank in the entire country.) Yes! That one.
So we went to that base and, though I didn’t NEED to go, I was curious and they had room in the car. I borrowed a scarf; the ones Gram knitted for me don’t quite fit the bill to cover my head and, while it’s not a requirement it serves to draw less attention to us as we drive between secure locations.
Funny, the coworker who drove was a white guy with shoulder length blonde hair and a pair of Doc Martens but yeah, I’ll wear a scarf. And so.
This base had an area to shop and I decided to buy a few scarves to send home.
If you’ve never heard the story, I was unofficially banned from a Saturday morning garage sale group in college because I routinely paid MORE than people asked for things. (my rationale was they looked needy and the was actually worth more anyhow.)
Rose probably still laughs about that. All of that to say I don’t barter well. In any country, in any language. Sahar joined me at the shops and I wasn’t sure which one to enter… until it was obvious.
Funny; thousands of miles from the closest Marine Corps base and we’ve still managed to leave our mark. The shop owner greeted us (only men work in shops in Kabul; the women are home doing, well, the actual work to keep a family running) and Sahar took the lead in the conversation.
The shop was filled with rugs and scarves. He immediately overwhelmed me by pulling out scarf after scarf. I asked the price and he told me. Sahar balked and he showed us a stack of cheaper scarves. (made in china, he actually said it with disdain) I asked if he’d lower the price on the scarves I liked if I bought several and he agreed. Sahar suggested I could wait and see where else they sell scarves (subtle hint #1) and he started flipping through scarf after scarf and I just proceeded to make a neat little pile next to us.
In the end I have a considerable stack and he does the math. I actually had more scarves than I had cash for and he quickly said, “‘S okay, bring me 12 dollars next time.” (subtle hint#2) As we left the store and joined our coworkers in the hallway Sahar turned to me and declared, “You have to let me barter next time. I could have talked him down much further.” (not so subtle hint #3) She insisted I NOT return with the 12 dollars after explaining, “He would not have let you leave the store if he wanted more money from you.”
Ah… and so, there you have it. I bought scarves. At a premium…
We ventured to a pizza place for lunch and while we waited for our order I stepped into the little shop attached to the pizza place. While my coworker looked at designer perfumes I spotted, of all things, Chinese throwing stars. I know someone who loves all things ninja and so, I bought them. Funny, I offered him half the asking price and my coworker said, “Jennie, we’re in a PX; you can’t barter.” Dude…
The pizza was remarkable, I must say, My stomach didn’t agree with me later that evening but it tasted great.
Snapped a few shots inside one of the shops. It could have been SoHo, Chinatown or Tijuana with the selection and hovering shopkeeper.
Today I HAD to travel to a separate base (the one where my mail is processed) and the security posture there is much higher (Piper, that means EVERYONE who had a weapon carried the weapon with them at all times) so it actually felt like a base.
In a country where we’re fighting a war.
We had our paperwork processed, made a quick trip to the PX for cleaning supplies and batteries (my alarm clock uses triple AAA as a back up and since the power goes out every two hours or so I’m going to load the batteries and hope I don’t panic when I wake up at random times in the night and see a time that makes NO sense because the clock reset itself when the power hiccuped and I don’t want people cleaning my room at the ‘Ville so I clean it myself) and ate at an actual chow hall before we left for the ‘Ville.
That place explains why so many Soldiers (and maybe Marines, I just haven’t seen it) spend a year in Afghanistan (or Iraq) and come back fat. There was food everywhere and judging by the trays and the waistlines, food discipline stays home when people deploy.
I enjoyed a very “American” lunch and my stomach made me pay for it this evening when I returned to the office.
The medic here gave me meds a week ago and today he gave me something stronger. If this keeps up I’m moving my desk to the “latrine.”
While we drive between bases I don’t shoot many pictures; the huge camera hanging out the window screams TOURIST but I shot a few on this trip though just so you get a feel for the area.
It rained a bit on the way home today and ‘they’ say we’re expecting snow this weekend. Remains to be seen. I hope you’re well and enjoying the New Year wherever you’re reading this.
Before I close I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out my Afghanistan experience is much different than that of all of our friends serving on active duty. I keep the blog light in an attempt to entertain and engage but make no mistake, there is a war being fought in Afghanistan. Please keep Brad and his Marines and the rest of the thousands of service men and women serving across the globe in your prayers.
3 thoughts on “Chinese stars, a meat market and scarves”
Hi Jennie! I love love love reading your blog! It’s so refreshing to listen (read) to you ramble on about everything and know that through the years and tears you have stayed the same! Love you and look forward to reading more! Have a blast while you’re there, but above all stay sfae!
I’m way behind in blog land, but those shoes are pretty impressive. Also, I’ve been to that exact traffic circle (it has to be the same one…), and marveled about the meat hung like that. I tell people about it all the time. You walk up to the butcher and go ahead and pick your exact cut of meat. Bizarre and completely unsanitary.
For what it’s worth though, I did eat meat I was served in the small rural villages. And let me tell you, it was GOOD. I took some high-strength pepto bismal type tablets before I ate anything sketch and was never any worse for the wear. The way I rationalized it was to say that there was nothing I was going to permanently catch that American medicine couldn’t treat. And, (hopefully), you’re only in Afghanistan once in your life. But the food on base? A whole other story. People got sick eating at the base restaurants (not the chow halls, the places you pay) all the time… Bleh…
Miss you! I saw the shoes and it reminded me of a certain pair of orange shoes – I laughed!! I will send you the two packages of AAA batteries that you left with me! I also got some mail for you today…I opened it – just so I could tell you what it is…It is a check. email me with info on how to deposit it for you! Love you!