Back to Kuwait

Normally I try to avoid meetings.  When I found out that a series of meetings were being scheduled with management, I was less than enthusiastic.  When I found out that the meetings were to be held in Kuwait and that they would get me out of Afghanistan for a week, I signed up quickly.

One of the toughest parts of traveling military air in theater is the waiting.  Civilians get bumped for uniformed personnel or hazardous cargo.  It sometimes takes days to get out of Bagram or days to get to Bagram.  From Kabul, we drive to the Kabul International Airport -- the military side -- and attempt to sign-up for flights to Bagram Air Base.  I arrived at the airport around 0900 and my flight wasn't going to depart until 1430 hrs.  That was a bit of a problem because there was a 1500 hrs showtime in Bagram for the flight to Kuwait.  If I missed that flight, I'd have to spend a night in an 80-man tent in Bagram, waiting to get to Kuwait.

A stroke of luck.  Flying on a Casa 212 puddle jumper.

The workmate I was traveling with is one of those guys who knows everyone and everyone knows him.  Waleed found a woman who he knew who worked at the pax terminal.  She knew that this small, 12-pax plane leaving around 1130 for Bagram.  She manifested both Waleed and I on it and we were in Bagram fifteen minutes later.  More importantly, we were in Bagram in plenty of time to manifest for the Kuwait flight at 1500 hrs.  We made that flight but waited for three additional hours before the plane arrived in Bagram for us to board.

The other tough part of military travel to Kuwait is having to pass through Ali Al Salem again -- the Life Support Area (LSA) adjacent to the air base where one waits to get out or waits for Kuwaiti visas.  Since I was going to stay in Kuwait to attend meetings, I had to get another Kuwaiti visa.  It's never a problem, although our flight didn't get in to Ali Al Salem Air Base until 2330 hrs and didn't get over to the LSA until after midnight.  That meant that my passport wouldn't be transported to the commercial airport until morning and that I wouldn't see my passport and visa until around 1800 hrs.  So, I settled in another 20-man tent and lost another day.

Our quarters here in Kuwait City are fairly upscale.  In any event, they're better than crowded tent living.  Here are some pictures from our penthouse windows.  We are on the 13th floor.  That sounds bad, but here like in Europe, there's Ground Level, then 1st floor....  So, we are actually on the 14th floor.  Waleed was quick to point out that there are cracks throughout the walls from the settling (into the sand).  I have no doubts that this building will crumble to the "Ground Level" if an earthquake happens here.  I just don't want to be in the penthouse when that happens.  Anyway, some pictures:

As I mentioned in a previous post, there's all kinds of construction occurring in Kuwait City, especially along the beach.  All of this view was sand and desert during the original Gulf War.


Right behind the facade of construction lies desert, more desert, and then just sand as far as one can see.

The sewer.  In the three months that I've been In Afghanistan, Kuwait has failed to repair the sewage treatment system and continues to pump tons of raw sewage into the Gulf every day.

My company's support folks who live here in Kuwait tell me the goings on within Kuwait when I pass through.  Saudi Arabia is suing Kuwait over the sewage issue since the raw sewage has made its way down to Saudi.  Besides polluting the beaches and killing sea life along the coast, it's affecting tourism.

Tourism.  Who in their right mind would spend their own money to come to Kuwait or Saudi, stay in a poorly constructed hotel near a polluted beach and not have any alcohol?  The answer is -- no one.  That explains why the Kuwaiti Tourism Director just resigned.  I read this today in the Kuwaiti Times.  Some lady was appointed to the post of Tourism Director and she didn't last.  Numbers are down and she wasn't able to attract any takers.  No wonder; Dubai is bankrupt and Kuwait can't fix its own infrastructure.  Here's a business tip, Kuwaitis:  Everything goes better with beer.  Yes, even in your shit-hole country.