I have a tradition of recording First Impressions, (see this and this) which is the title of this post–in Dari, one of the local languages. (If you do something three times, does that constitute a “tradition”? In my crazy, mixed-up, non-traditional world, it certainly does!)
So here is the latest in my “First Impressions” series–those precious first thoughts and experiences which color everything and which are unique to fresh eyes, ears, and heart. It’s always so interesting to return after a while and see how first impressions line up with a later perspective.
First, it’s prettier than I expected. Sadly, we are only allowed to take photographs in three places, one being the official seal in front of the NOB (which I think stands for New Office Building, but you never know. Acronyms are a whole other blog post):
(Stay tuned for the other two locations, coming soon.)
So you’ll just have to take my word for how beautiful it is, although I don’t think my words will do the colorful display justice. There are flowers, including roses galore, and coreopsis, zinnias, marigolds, vinca, petunias, snapdragons, geraniums, portulaca, verbena, four o’clocks, sunflowers, and strawberry plants and multiple types of basil, and more! All these things we see on our twice daily walk to and from work, and I was able to record them all for you because, lo and behold, my boss, besides being an awesome human being in multiple ways, is also a gardener and identified them all for me.
Additionally, there are huge (as in HUGE) photos of national parks and amazing scenery from the US (even Mount Rushmore, and Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower) printed on canvases that line the walls of the building and the tunnel we walk through every day. These two things are a huge respite from the otherwise concrete world in which I now live and work.
It’s huge. As in, I wonder how long it will take me to find my way around without getting lost. The buildings go by mysterious names like EOB and NOB and NOX and D-FAC and SDA-1, 2, and 3, and SDA-A, B, and C. Who knows what it all means and where to find anything? The other day I received an email that I had a package, and I wandered around aimlessly for a very long time, through multiple buildings, before finding the mail room.
It’s intense. I had heard all about how we work long hours, six days a week, and so far, it’s true. My favorite term “it’s always something” is on steroids here. It’s really always something and my guess is that pace will continue. There are anywhere between 6K-7K people here, which is bigger than all but a dozen cities in Wyoming. So there is always something happening, someone needing something, whether it is a report, or a suture.
There are so many players. I don’t know if I will ever learn who’s who and who does what. And that’s just the world of MED; don’t even think about the rest of the embassy players. There are doctors, and nurse practitioners and physicians assistants, and medics and first responders. There are direct hires and contractors of all sorts. There are American nurses, and family member nurses, and third country national nurses, and Afghan nurses. And there are multiple facilities with whom we have varying relationships which go by varying names and acronyms and designations that I’ve never heard of. But thankfully I’m part of an awesome team and there’s always someone to ask.
It’s a compound. We live and work and eat and sleep and exercise and recreate here. We do not leave, except for our designated R & Rs, and when we do depart, it’s via helicopter. It’s not like we can take a three-day weekend to see the sights. What I see from the rooftop deck of my apartment building is what I see.
The food is amazing. And plentiful. There is so. much. food. There are three dining facilities, and each one is better than the last. They have special brunch on Fridays (our only day off), and steak and seafood dinners, and every fresh vegetable you can imagine. (Except brussel sprouts, now that I think of it. I think I will request some.) And the food, in addition to being plentiful and varied, is actually really good. It takes a lot of discipline to avoid the Freshman Fifteen here, I do believe.
And there is always something going on. It’s been referred to as a “cruise ship run aground”–and it’s aptly named. There are first run movies, and spin class, and art class, and trivia nights, and open air markets with local vendors, and church services of every ilk, and even a games night, which I attended for the first time this week. But don’t be fooled; there are frequent duck and cover incidents, too. It is a war zone.
There is a lot of security here. That’s all I’m going to say. A lot of security. A lot of people in various brown uniforms carrying various means of protection. It is not difficult to remember where we are and what is going on here. But I feel safe and protected in my little world.
Next up: I’ll share lots of photos in Place #2 where we are allowed to take them. Stay tuned.