Military stories from past to present, both wars.

Happy Mothers day from OEF

May 14th, 2008 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

Dear Gang,

Greeting from, Afghanistan. First of all I want to say Happy Mother's Day to all you gals out there in Cyberland!! I can say that this is going to be a long tour. We travel around Kandahar City, which can be a bit nerve racking, as we have to meet with locals in different spots. Crazy stuff. I am learning Dari, the main language of the folks in power. There are a ton of dialects and folks from the North don’t understand the guys in the South. The same applies for each region–East and West. I just learned that I will work at another base close to here which is nice since all of my Afghan contacts are located there along with my translator who will begin my Dari lessons. I enjoy doing magic tricks for the kids on our compound, and it shows my feeble attempt at making friends with the locals. Actually the kids and adults love that stuff.

All the Afghan’s that I have come in contact with are super nice and love to smile. You greet them with your right hand over your heart and say ‘Salaam Mailickem’ and they will do the same. Like people all around the world, they just want to provide food for their families and have some sort of home.

I have to say that this place reminds me of Mexico in a way with the crazy drivers except you don’t see this everyday in Mexico–a flock of sheep going down the main street with cars whizzing around them at hyper speeds as the father and son try not to get them killed (now I know where our mystery meat comes from.) The women for the most part walk around in beautiful blue burkas, but the children don’t wear them from what I have seen. Sometimes I’ll be waiting for my ride to pick me up, and the children from the school two miles down will come over to say hello. I carry extra pens for them, but I make sure it’s a small group. If you give one Afghani something, they will all start to line up for a present.

They have a Bazaar on one of the local bases on Tuesdays, and after the vendors have cleared security, they set up shop. I was walking through with a couple of other officers looking at the nice stuff they had out. They do a fine job on silver jewelry, beautiful wooden boxes, scarves, etc. I walked up to one gent named Khullin and asked about the price of one set of jewelry, he said ”85 dollars” and I knew that was his opening salvo, they love to bargain with you and haggle till each of you are happy. If they give you a present, then it means he took you and felt guilty.

Next, I looked at some old Russian coins he had on the table. I held one up and asked, ‘how much?’ He says, ‘Oh for you my friend,$1.00.’ I turned to him and made the coin vanish with a little slight of hand, then pulled it out of his ear. He about flipped. Very excited, he called all of his fellow vendors over to our table. I repeated the trick and did a few more. Then I reached in my pocket and produced some key chains from my base back home in Texas. Handing one to Kullim, I found I had four more hands out. Luckily I had enough. I put my hand over my heart, bowed and thanked them. Well not to be out done, Khullin says, ‘Please stay here,’ and picked up a wad of Afghani money from the table and peeled off about ten bills. Nice crisp new bills. He handed them to me and bowed. Then the other vendors not to be out done by Khullin they all produced money and handed it to me.

My buddies were watching in amazement as I was being bestowed all this money. Khullin then took me back to the table and put his arm around me. ‘Mr. Marine, for you my friend, I sell this set for $15 dollars.’ That was a big drop from $85, so I said ‘How about two more, so three total. He leaned into me and said, “This is my cost, so $45 dollars for all three.”

I walked away with a ton of Afghan money and a great buy waving to my friends “Great, see you next Tuesday” . Those little key chains were gold. I learned a neat lesson, give something and you will receive it back twice fold. Wait a minute, where have I heard this before? Frank my Pastor says this alot and how true it is.

Well guys, I have to tell you that I work long hours, and don’t have much time to write.

Hope you all take care and I’ll talk to you soon.
Semper Fi,
Taco

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