Another Year For Broken Resolutions
I had the best of intentions of doing PT (Army physical training) while I was spending a year of my life here in Kabul. I bought Army PT uniforms and hauled all that stuff over here. There’s well equipped gyms at most of the camps and compounds that have both weights and cardio equipment. All the military folks constantly are running and working out. I mostly watch and stare, wishing I had the motivation.
My biggest excuse for not running is the uneven roadways, streets, alleys, walkways, and byways that service the camps. Even Area 10, the location where many of the safe houses are located, has very poor streets full of ruts, holes, trenches, and gravel with various sized rocks. Not a day goes by where I don’t turn an ankle while walking from one location to another. I’m saved from injury because of my combat boots. Those boots have kept me from spraining or breaking an ankle at least once a week (my ankle ligaments and tendons are too stretched from previous injuries).
I have another excuse. Kabul has some of the worst air pollution in the world. Because Kabul sits amongst hills and mountains, the smoke from the wood burning and vehicle exhaust hovers stagnantly over the city and obscures what would be wonderful views of the snowy mountains. Running into pollution is not an option for me. I never could understand those folks who run on busy streets while sucking up bus and truck exhaust while they gasp for air from the exertion. Why would anyone pollute their lungs like this and think that this exercise will provide for a healthy life? Just doesn’t make sense to me.
There’s times here when the winds blow out the smog and smoke and make for pretty good running conditions. About the only place I’ve found to run without breaking an ankle is NKC (New Kabul Compound). This is another US compound in Kabul, newly created, and still undergoing expansion. NKC has a very nice perimeter road inside the walls. Because of the construction, there’s too much mud and water on the road to make for safe running -- at least for me. Others run and that helps to instill in me more remorse for my slacking off.
NKC is overlooked by one of the hills in Kabul. Like all the hills here, one-story mud huts populate the landscape. There’s no utilities servicing these neighborhoods. No power, no water, no sewage. The poor and very poor live in these hovels and they’re the ones most prone to radicalization. To keep NKC safe from snipers, the military has OPs (Observation Posts) out in these neighborhoods. Military patrols interact with the locals and prevent incidents from happening. I’ve been told that the Army provides food and medicine to these villagers to help keep them safely on our side -- for now.
The hill can be seen in the background. Above the blue container on the left is a glimpse of the green mesh curtain that is put up to help prevent snipers from hitting their targets. These curtains also add a bit of privacy to theUS operations here.
Reminders exist that, even with the precautions taken for ensure safety, danger is just around the corner. These signs below are posted at once section of the perimeter road in NKC for the runners and joggers. It’s yet another reason that I think I’ll put off my PT program until I come home!