Soldier’s Diary – Afghanistan

PART 1

  Today is the first month of my arrival in Afghan lands.
I would be lying if I said that time has passed quickly, but it is true that the worst were the first two weeks. Once you get used to every day being Monday and this desolate landscape, the road is less uphill.
In fact, today, full of optimism, I almost see the end of the mission at the bottom of the tunnel and those desired vacations, although there are still four and a half months left for it.
And here, the main factor is that, the psychological factor. That factor helps you to move on. For example, last night I went to bed quite late trying to fix the Internet of the outpost, which I finally got and the effort was partly grateful for the cooks, who gave me two Kit-Kat…; it may seem silly, but these things here are a little push.
I cannot help remembering certain comments from people who, when reading the communiqué that the Ministry of Defense made to the newspapers on July 9th, if I remember correctly, which reported a wounded Spaniard in an insurgent ambush that lasted five hours and in which we had to ask for American air support, they were unwilling to say, convinced, that coming here is a vacation for us, that we do nothing here, and that they give away us the money….
Honestly, I would love to see these people here, to see if they changed their mind and better yet, to see how much they endured.
In general, on July 19th, 2012 and serving a month of mission, I am proud to be part of a contingent that tries to mediate in the enormous crisis of a government divided and full of fundamentalists. Contingent that actively helps people and families in almost subhuman life situations.
Proud, for those children who, when they see you, smile and greet vigorously as if they had seen their savior.


PART 2

  Completing the second month of mission here in Qala-E-Naw, Badhguis Province.
Immersed in the routine of jogging-work-eating-gym-sleeping and we start again. The truth is that some colleagues and I sometimes think that if something has to have seemed like a day to day in a prison it must be very similar to this. But the truth is that it has been a fairly quiet month for me and without much news. And I say for me because, well, for other people who are out or continuously in convoys, the thing is different. In addition, Afghans have now finished Ramadan and the Taliban have much more activity and greater religious fervor. I imagine you will have seen the latest news about it on television.
As I said, for me quite calm. I met the famous virus yala-yala, which enjoyed my body for four days and which I remember as a friend who owes you money. It is also true that I have met other much more pleasant friendships and that contribute to making this much more bearable.
Two Thursdays a month we make barbecue, we play music and we do karaoke. We have also been playing with the Olympics and now with the Spanish league for almost a month and a half; there is a € 400 jackpot that I expect, obviously, to be the depositary. By the way, wish me luck for tonight’s game of Real Madrid-Valencia (I put 2-2) and for that of Barça-Real Sociedad (I put 4-0).
With the money I still have left of what I brought and with the money from the jackpot that I am going to win, I will continue making some occasional raid on the market that Afghans ride every Friday inside our base. They are all true works of pure craftsmanship and also at a more than reasonable price (we must bear in mind that € 1 equals 63 Afghanis, and that most of them live for a day with 2 Afghanis; still, they are not fools and they try to westernize the prices of the products of their market, taking them great benefits even if it does not involve us much expense. A great fun that I am taking the taste is the art of bargaining with these people. They are true masters of that art and they are the first to enjoy it. I have already taken a look at a few handmade necklaces and rings with precious and semiprecious stones that are very well priced and that surely bring souvenir to Spain along with the occasional silk palestine and set of marble cups that are admirable.
Oh, and by the way…, this month I make my first million!
The adventure continues next month.


PART 3

  And here we are once again, on the 19th, this September, to fulfill 3 months of mission. There are only 1 month and 14 days left to step on Spanish soil again. Each time I begin to reproduce with greater continuity that precise moment in which I get off the plane, see my family and have that feeling of feeling at home again. I ask myself: will I be able to hold back the tears at that precise moment? Excited I decide to ignore the answer.
My Sergeant (a good guy), my co-worker (that black girl from the Dominican Republic that was born exactly the same day and month as me), and the narrator, we are having a lot of work lately, reviewing and organizing a lot of material and preparing it to repatriate it or to keep everything in perfect condition for the companions that will make us the relief. Today we have specifically filled the first drawer of material that will take a little while to fly to the peninsula.
Within 8 days they send me back to the advanced position for a minimum of 20 days. I would have preferred to stay here until the end of the mission, basically because of the quality and abundance of the food, which is bigger here (there I was very hungry last time), because of the gym that is much bigger and more complete (there are 5 dumbbells, 4 discs, 1 bar and a bank) and also by the companies, since there I will be the only one of my unit. Basically, the comfort and quality of life in general here is greater than there. But if I was once I can be twice; assumed and prepared for it.
We are almost all involved with the issue of sending all the bags back to Spain because they take at least 1 month. In this week I have to finish filling them out and sending them. I’ll keep the basics here for the rest of my mission.
There is no way for anyone to win the football jackpot! More than four hundred euros are already going, and nothing, for the moment, no winner.
I have finished buying people’s gifts. I had to haggle a lot in the market but I think I got everything at a reasonable price. There are quite a few things for the family and more relatives and some typical keychain with the name in Arabic and the Afghan flag for the rest.
Lately I have been eating a lot of chocolate, something that surprises me a lot since I have never been to eat sweet or industrial buns and try, in general, to take care of food. If this of chocolate eating had happened to me two months ago, I would have finished this note, at that time, saying that: chocolate is the only sweet note of the mission. But if I said it now, by the third month, it wouldn’t be true. There are few sweet notes, but there are, and chocolate is just one of them.


PART 4

  I still don’t believe how close I am to returning to Spain. Four months here and there are only fifteen more days left. How would Bisbal say while covering his face with both hands in a gesture of pleasant surprise: Oh my God, this is unbelievable. By the way, remind me to visit the psychologist when I arrive in Spain and explain that I mentioned Bisbal in one of my writings. The mission must have affected me a lot….
Within five days, coincidentally on the day of my birthday, they give us the timely decoration: I premiered in carrying medals. Hopefully it will be the first of many and, if possible, that it is not in Afghanistan that I am already fed up with so much swallowing dust.
Yesterday I returned from the Moqur COP to Qala-e-Naw without much news there that I am going to tell here, and I was struck by the aim that one of the children in a village had while we pass on the way back. He threw a stone from Sevastopol and hit the armored window in front of me, making it a considerable crack …; he scared me!
A total of twenty-one days there that we could headline, such as the report program presented by Adela Úcar, Twenty-one days without hygiene, without mattress, without good food, with no heat, without good wine, without good company and without/with other circumstances.
But the truth is that I am plethoric. Glad to have almost surpassed the mission and that the greatest moments of danger have been left behind. I can almost say that there is already a 90% chance that I will arrive from a piece to Spain. But I’m not going to say it very loud… just in case!
The last trip will be by Hercules plane to Herat, where I will spend three days until the commercial plane comes and picks us up to Spain.
Just thinking about it and seeing it so close I am getting excited.
I will write again one day before leaving Afghanistan.


PART 5

  The long-awaited day has arrived.
That day that every Soldier, NCO or Officer has been dreaming since he set foot in the area of operations.
That day is the day it is time to say goodbye to a country in full conflict, having the sensation of having contributed our little grain of sand, but also with the feeling that this help will soon fall into a broken sack; a somewhat bitter feeling…
And in this country, no matter how much you try to do, comes the dust of the desert and remodels everything again at will…
Even so, I can say that I am happy to have finished the operation Rebuilding Afganisthan and being one day from stepping on Spanish soil and reuniting with my people.
I have had very bad and hard times here, and I have also had very good and sweet moments, but I think that even in spite of how hard it may have been, it is very enriching to see and live something like that. In that sense I am very proud and very happy that this experience becomes part of me.
Now it is time to enjoy my deserved vacation days, having at my disposal thousands of things that here were lacking.
We are currently at the Herat base, where we have been waiting for 2 days for the commercial plane to come tomorrow. Relaxed, with nothing more to do than rest and think again and again about our imminent arrival in Spain.
Goodbye Afghanistan…
And I tell you excited and even with some regret…
Goodbye to your movie’s arid landscapes, goodbye to your various people, goodbye to your heat and cold, goodbye to your explosions, goodbye to your market and crafts, goodbye to your shots, goodbye to your beautiful starry sky, goodbye to your poisonous fauna, goodbye to your Dari and Pashtun, goodbye to your widespread feeling of distrust, goodbye to your sandstorms, goodbye to the short and sincere thank you samples…
Goodbye…, goodbye…, goodbye…
Tasakhor and Kodha Hafez, Afganisthan….