I wasn’t supposed to attend this conference, I mean conferences like this are for important people to talk about important things – I’ve never really thought that what I brought to the table would be that big of an addition. But there I was, hanging out at NKAIA with all the top brass and the who’s who in the zoo. We were going to travel on a C130 to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
I’ve never been to Qatar, and I was a little excited to travel somewhere new, as well as the fact that they authorized a three drink maximum on base. Oh wait – back to official business. So the flight. Yes back to the flight. A C130 isn’t your ideal transit for a 5-6 hour flight. It’s either really hot, or really cold – never is it “just right.” It’s got mesh seats for your butt-numbing experience as well as a privacy curtain for the standing urinal that the Airman was nice enough to point out had a “camp seat” for the female troops that needed it. I had been dehydrating myself for the evening flight to avoid the joy of finding out just what a “camp seat” was.
I must say that the military does tend to plan most of its flight times to ensure maximum jet lag and complete exhaustion upon arrival at your destination, but our forward element was amazing and had vans ready as soon as we cleared immigration. You heard me right – immigration. Even though AUB is an American Air Base, the Qatar government has its Air Base adjacent and has strict rules governing who comes into the country. If you have not properly cleared customs from your last trip, expect to be deported promptly. They have no issues in taking you from the Air Base pushing you back out a flight – any flight. Is it going your direction? Doesn’t matter. Not that I disagree with the strict rules of immigration control – not at all. Its just shocking to find your dealing with it at a US base, yes sometimes we need to be reminded we are a guest…
We would have the first day off before the conference started, and walking out of the dormitory it took me a moment to register, the air! It was like inhaling ambrosia, it was so clean and pure. The sun on my face completed a feeling of joy at my break from the Stan. I began the walk across the sandy field, the dorm served as a hub in the spokes out to the conference building, the gym, the “Mall” (aka PX), the DFAC, and the Kazbah. I was happy to discover there were step and cardio tone classes, a pool, extended hours at the DFAC, and a PX that had swim suits that fit.
Well Dorothy – your not in the Stan anymore (well at least for 12 days)