Monday, June 25, 2007

What's That Smell?

What's that smell? No it is not a new game show or reality show coming out this fall. Although if a show does come out with this title, remember you heard it here first. It is something we often ask ourselves as we travel around Afghanistan and encounter the environment and the local people. Because this is a third world country, sanitation is not something that is practiced on a regular basis. There are no modern sewer systems, no regulations regarding pollution and not a lot of running water. As you travel around you encounter many things you might find unbelievable in the US. We in the US are used to showering daily (well most of us) and are concerned about body odor. In Afghanistan this is not so important and possibly not very practical due to the conditions. It is part of the culture and the Afghans don't seem to mind, whereas the Americans find it a little bit disturbing. You can guarantee that if you are in a room with 4 or 5 Afghans your nose will be met with the distinct smell of body odor or worse. We had this happen the other day and some of the sailors took it upon themselves to provide some soap, shampoo and deodorant to a few Afghan civilians we work with. The funny part was that our sailors had to explain to the Afghans what shampoo, conditioner and deodorant was. So now my quest is to teach the Afghans about deodorant and provide it to them for use. If you would like to donate to this cause, please send solid deodorant to me and I will make sure the people get it.

This week I had the opportunity to share a traditional Afghan meal with some of our Afghan counterparts. It was very delicious. They actually slaughtered a lamb for me and other guests and served rice, naan and vegetables. We also had some cherries and the some of the best mango I have had in a while. Rebecca and the kids went to an Afghan restaurant in San Diego with our friends Gordy and Linda last week and they also had a great meal. They all wanted to get a sense of the food that I have been experiencing. I am sure by the time I get home, I will have had my fill of Afghan food and will head out for some sushi.

Work has been relatively smooth. The team is working hard to bring up the capabilities of people and operations so we can completely turn over the operations to Afghanistan. We are on our way to getting there and our group will be able to leave knowing they have made a difference for Afghanistan. Of course it is way too early to be talking about leaving, we still have about 10 months to go in country. If you have been counting this is day 70 since boots on the ground day.

Back on the homefront, Rebecca has been doing some fixing up in the house, putting shelving in the office and in our bedroom, painting the guestroom and putting some screen doors up to get ready for summer. The kids are enjoying their summer break so far and have some fun adventures planned. Their cousins Kathleen and Elizabeth are busy working their jobs and helping with painting. It is nice that they like helping with what I am sure would be on my "to do" list.

Peace to you all,


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