The Coalition takes great pains to make absolutely sure everyone is well-hydrated, going so far as to make free bottles of water available basically everywhere. You can just walk up to any cooler and take one, no questions asked! If you get dehydrated, it’s your own damn fault. There is running water, but it’s not potable for some reason having to do with mineral content, not medical concerns. That’s how I justify using the tap water to brush my teeth, anyway. I don’t feel sick yet.
Of course, the result of all this free water is thousands of empty plastic bottles that go in the trash, because Afghanistan doesn’t have any recycling capability. I felt bad throwing bottles in the trash at first, but eventually the inner environmentalist in me shut up. Hey, if all those millions of trashed water bottles breaks your heart, feel free to start a GoFundMe or Kickstarter campaign for Afghanistan’s first recycling plant!
To my pleasant surprise, like Al Udeid the KIV also has a lively cat population. They stalk the camp, supposedly keeping the rodentia population down even though they’re fed plenty of Meow Mix, and some of them even look fat. They must be effective, though, because my office’s care package food horde has remained untouched by vermin.
The cats are pretty friendly. They’re unafraid of humans, and it’s tempting to pet them. We’re not supposed to, however. You’ll get a citation or something if you get caught fondling a feline; diseases or something.
In fact, during a day of newcomer in-briefs, a doctor in the audience stood up and started ranting about rabies:
“I’ve only been here a week, and already two people have come into the clinic with rabies symptoms. Know what happens for suspected rabies cases? Shots. Lots of shots. And know what happens if you actually get rabies? You die! Slowly and painfully! There is no cure! Those two people risked getting rabies because they pet the goddamn cats. I know they look friendly, but a lot of them probably have rabies. If I get any more cases of possible rabies in my clinic, I’ll have to start euthanizing the cats. I don’t want to do it, but I’ll do it!”
Red in the face, the doctor finally sat down, confident the audience was Scared Straight Off Cat-Petting.
I imagined him treating someone foaming at the mouth, shaking his head, then marching outside with his M4 and going postal on the cats, before being cornered by police and taking his own life (because that’s how these things always end).
Did you know you can adopt one of these rabies-ridden cats? I could bring home my very own Afghan cat, for the modest cost of several thousand dollars to import a live animal into the US. My husband would be thrilled. Or I could smuggle it in my luggage. If you meet me in the airport when I’m returning home and hear a mewling coming from my backpack, just ignore it.