Right before Christmas, I had the flu for the first time in like twenty years. Know how I know it was the flu? They stick a swab up your nose until it touches the back of your throat, jiggle it around for a little bit, then pull it out and test the mucus for the virus. It’s as unpleasant as it sounds. Even though I’ve had the flu vaccine, turns out us dupes in the US get vaccinated for the American flu. Here in the KIV, you get exposed to flus from around the world, so the flu shot you get in the US doesn’t do shit here. Note to self: if I deploy again, don’t bother with the flu shot.
Anyway, the doctors on the KIV gave me some meds – Tylenol and anti-mucus stuff, and some drug that makes the flu not last as long – and sent me back to my room, where I laid in my bed for the next two days, dying. But I recovered just in time for Christmas! Which was…okay, I guess. We got the whole day off! I went to work and watched some movies. It was either that, or sit in my hooch and watch movies. Every day feels the same here, even Christmas. The difference is some of the countries had Christmas lights and whatnot up.
Norway had a nice tree with a nativity display:
And Italy’s tree was all blinged out. They had music and everything!
And freaking Germany brought in a real pine tree from somewhere (pine trees are not native to Afghanistan):
They think they’re so great, those Germans. Maybe they got their beautiful authentic spruce from the same place they got the candy thong.
More holiday-inspired berms popped up, too (those fighting barricade things randomly located throughout KIV are called “berms,” a friend of mine who writes military fiction told me. Yeah, I’m in the military and I didn’t know what a berm was…Hey, I can tell you all about rockets, alright? Infantry isn’t my forte).
Someone remembered Hanukkah!
Sure, it’s a little awkward in a Muslim country, but we’re all about tolerance in the KIV – except when it comes to spandex. Exposing the fine contours of your ass is not tolerated. More on that later.
There’s even a duck berm…which has nothing to do with the holidays, but I guess someone likes ducks. Probably the Latvians.
(True story – when I first got to the KIV, we had a newcomers briefing from the head of the International Military Police force (yes, the IMPs), an Australian dude who had this bit of advice for us about law and order: “Hey, if you break the rules or give me trouble, I’ll be fairly chill about it. I’m Australian, I don’t get real angry often. But all the other IMPs are Latvians. They come from a formerly Communist country. You piss them off, they’ll fuckin’ kill you.”)
Finally, we had a nice dinner in our dining facility – all-you-can-eat! …It’s always all-you-can-eat. But there usually aren’t fancy cakes, cream puff pyramids, and ambiguous ice sculptures to enjoy.
For good measure, at the end of the day, I drank a near-beer. When I get back to the States, I’ll get drunk and embarrass myself as a late Christmas celebration.