Monday, August 31, 2009


Last night it rained for the first time since I've been in Afghanistan. And rain it did. The wind, thunder and lightening woke me up at 3am and kept me up all morning. After it stopped, I could not go back to sleep.

When we reported to work, we found out all the damage that occurred. There was pretty much a flash flood across the entire province. Lots of people dead. Lots of damage. Right now I'm working on a critical bridge that was washed out. Completely gone. It was made out of concrete and there was no water flowing underneath the bridge until this morning. Insane.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


The election is over and hopefully there won't be a run off. :) Now we're in the season of Ramadan. It's a very spiritual time for Muslims and to be in a Muslim country during Ramadan is a neat experience. Afghans only eat and drink right before sunrise and after sunset. During the day, they fast from food and water. Construction continues, but the contractor will adjust the hours. You can tell the fasting takes a toll on them. I think the hardest part would be fasting from water, because it is over 100 degrees.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Independence Day

Today in Afghanistan is Independence Day. Not independence from the Taliban, the Russians or the mujaheddin. Independence from Britain. This day dates back to 1919, when the British finally left Afghanistan. Usually the Afghans will celebrate, but this year since it is so close to the elections, there is not much celebrating. Everyone is pretty tense about pre-election violence. The turnout, compared to 2004, is expected to be huge. I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens.

In other news, the weather has started to cool down a bit. Yesterday evening it was 92 degrees and it felt very comfortable. I'm going to go back to England and freeze my butt off!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sitting Duck

On my latest mission I went a little picture crazy. We had quite an ambitious day planned. We were going to check up on four of our road projects, plus have a meeting with some village elders. We didn't accomplish everything we wanted to do, but we still got a lot done and validated an important project. We went to the district of Deh Bala, which is in the southern part of Nangarhar. It was so beautiful out there and I instantly thought that I wouldn't mind living here. The road project is doing well. Some pictures are below. These guys get paid $4 a day.

The Engineering team with one of our contractors.

This guy is building a wall and asked for some cement from the PRT.

Talking on the cell amongst the goats.

On our way to the second road project, one of our MRAPs got stuck in the soft mud. So we backed up a second MRAP to pull it out and the first MRAP only got more stuck and the secon MRAP became stuck. So we backed up a third MRAP and that got stuck too. We were stuck until the bulldozer from the construction site came and pulled out us out. By the time this happened, it was dark outside, and anyone who knows anything about Afghanistan knows you don't want to be outside when it's dark. The villagers where we got stuck were very friendly (one even helped us dig out the MRAP) and said they kicked the Taliban out. The police there said they've taken fire from the surrounding mountains. We were only 20km from the Pakistan border. It's a good story and our MRAPs were going to get stuck sooner or later. I'm just glad we didn't have to spend the night out there.
Our salvation!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dari Noor

A little while ago we took a trip to Dari Noor, the most northern part of Nangarhar. The people there are not Pashtun, they are Pashai and they take care of their own. It is one of the safest areas in Nangarhar and it is extremely beautiful. Life up there seems simple and uncomplicated. The people are friendly but reserved. I hope you can feel like you were there from the pictures.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ladies Night

Wednesday night is ladies night in Jalalabad. We wouldn't have it any other way. So the ladies of the PRT got out and mingled with the ladies of Afghanistan. Some of them spoke English, but since there was no translator with me I was stuck with my three phrases of Pashto and my camera. The children were very receptive, crowded around us and gave us flowers and food. It was very tiring and of course it was hot outside. The kids here are adorable but all of them are attention starved and the Americans are the show in town whenever we roll up.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Khyber Pass

A couple weeks ago we went to Torkham Gate, Afghanistan's second largest border crossing. This border crossing area is the backside of the Khyber Pass, which has a long and infamous history. I must admit that it was pretty cool to be walking on the same ground as Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan.

There was a purpose to our trip. We have a project there--a footbridge to alleviate some of the traffic through the border crossing area. The border crossing is extremely busy, with lots of people and trucks coming and going. Work is progressing well, but I think every one was more interested in getting pictures taken at the Afghan-Pak border. We technically stepped a foot or two inside Pakistan, but don't tell anyone! While I was there on the border area, I received a marriage proposal from one of the Afghan Border Police. He has his arm around me in one of the pictures below.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Engineers

A couple weeks ago we had a "green bean" BBQ with our Afghan engineers. JB, one of our civilians, has the connections with KBR and got us some juicy steaks and vegetables on the grill. A couple of our engineers did not eat the beef because they will only eat the meat if they personally know the butcher. But we still had fun and got to know each other better. They are good guys and know their stuff when it comes to construction. JB cooking us some juicy steaks

The engineering crew

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hugs at the ECP

I'm several days behind in my posts. Work is very busy and I have to wait in line to use the internet, so please be patient. I have a feeling I will never get caught up.

Several days ago I had to pick some paperwork up at the entry control point (ECP) on the base. Many children hang around the ECP and a little Pashto goes a long way. As I approached a group of about ten boys I started speaking to them in Pashto. When it was time for me to leave, one little boy asked me for a hug. After I gave him a hug, a lined formed and all these little boys wanted hugs! I hugged about eight of them and at least one of them twice. It was adorable! As I was walking away, they said they loved me. And I told them I love them too. Their response was they love me three and four and five.