Sunday, August 5, 2007

I'm going to pump you up!

No its not Arnold or those guys from Saturday Night Live doing the workout sketch, just little ole me, Pat Wade, from Afghanistan. I thought I would share with you a little story that Rebecca found about gyms in Afghanistan.

Life, Liberty and The Pursuit of Biceps
These men, and others like them, have started a muscle revolution in Afghanistan. Their thinking: If they can build their bodies, then maybe—just maybe—they can rebuild their nation.

By Oliver Broudy, Men's Health

In Mohammadi's office an assistant serves tea. Someone had referred me to him, thinking he might be able to shed a little light on a question I had about the recent fitness craze sweeping Afghanistan. Since the fall of the Taliban, 80 new gyms have opened in Kabul alone, up from a total of 15. You see them everywhere, tucked into garage-size storefronts beneath huge pieces of plywood bearing the hulking likeness of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronnie Coleman, or some other bodybuilder. The gyms have names like Gold Gym, Super Gym, and Super Gold Top Gym. They stand in the shadow of shattered buildings, beside other shops selling sacks of cement and cases of Coke - the foundations on which all great nations are built.

"The private gyms are suddenly everywhere," Thomas Gouttierre, director of the center for Afghanistan studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, had told me before I departed for Kabul. Indeed, during my 2-week stay, it seemed as if a couple of new ones popped up overnight. Other evidence of the get-fit revolution here: Workout gear has replaced burkas on store shelves, protein powder tops every gym-rat's wish list, and the Mr. Afghanistan bodybuilding contest has become the hot ticket.

So I can't vouch for the popularity of Arnold in California, but he is somewhat popular here in Afghanistan or at least Kabul. I had noticed the signs with pictures of hulking men, but did not think anything of it until this article.
Just the other day, I was with my interpreter, Hameed, when he asked me to buy him some muscle building protein powder at the exchange. Hameed is a 20 year old kid who weighs maybe 130 pounds and he obviously wants to bulk up. I bought him what they had in stock and hope it works to add some pounds to him.

For you muscle heads who want to read the entire story, here is a link.
On to work. It is busy as ever and I am just trying to keep up. Everyone works pretty long hours in our department here at Camp Eggers. I am still hoping we will smooth things out and have some more free time. I spend most of my days going to meetings, working on tasks and keeping up with e-mail. Hey, it sounds just like real work. I do make time to go out and do site visits to better understand all our operations. Getting out is difficult though because you really have to plan your trips and always be aware of the dangerous environment. You can't just run out and meet someone. You have to plan ahead to make sure you have the right number of vehicles and personnel to do a convoy. It certainly does make progress a little slower.

Back on the homefront, Rebecca took our nieces to Mexico (Tijuana),

just to experience what its like in Mexico. I told them Tijuana is far ahead of Afghanistan. I don't think it resembled anything like Girls Gone Wild, but at least the girls got a chance to see what it was like in part of Mexico... on a Thursday afternoon with their aunt.The kids are doing well and my birthday present for Madigan finally arrived; a bit late.

Editor's note: Patrick sent Madigan a beautiful pair of ruby earrings.

We also went down to Imperial Beach for the US Sand Castle Competition last weekend. I have to share because it is absoultely amazing what people can do with sand and water:

This is Mount Rushmore:
And this is the backside of Mount Rushmore:

Peace to you all,


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