Stepping off the bus that transported us from the plane to New Canada house was an experience I don’t wish on anyone, no one that I had gotten to know in Kingston was there to greet me. The greeting I received was less then thrilling. Thank goodness I soon met friendly faces who gave me greetings only a friend could offer. There are soon new people coming in, and although I’m not best friends with them, they deserve a reception that says welcome. This is their first impression for the next six months, and one that will be carried with them forever.
I don’t wish a first week in KAF on anyone. Talk about confusing, the camp is thirteen kilometres and trying to get to know everywhere you have to be is confusing in itself. You have the tent lines, the boardwalk which houses three of the shops that we work at, the American PX, a great place to go for things you may need or just some snacks that we don’t carry, Role 3, where you go when you’re sick; and you will be by your second week here, the gym, and MWR; everyone’s favourite hangout spot, as you will soon read below. Really, everything is close by; everything is within a 15 or 20 minute walk from point A to point B. The longest walk is from our tent lines to New Canada House. The only time you’ll walk longer here for something you really need is when you walk the flight line. The flight line is an 11 km walk, it takes anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours to complete. Unfortunately nothing happened like was said on training. I got here and had a tour my first day, got drove around or walked around my first day and after that, I was on my own. I learned my way around camp by trial and error. Taking wrong turns, exploring side streets, and asking everyone around me which way this was or which way that was.
My first night in camp was spent in the ever so wonderful BATS (Big Ass Tents). Basically this is a full size military tent, the ones we stayed in were partitioned off by cement walls. Not so lucky is the fact that three women had to stay in one room that was approximately 7 feet by 10 feet. Our room housed two bunk beds. I being either the most flexible, and the most unlucky got the top bunk. Now this wasn’t just an ordinary bunk bed, the top bunk was a good 6 feet in the air, inches from the ceiling and had no ladder. We did end up finding a small wooden contraption though; which resembled a ladder, but could only reach so high. I ended up somehow pulling myself over, but at the same time banging the inside of my legs every time I climbed up or down the bed. In the one night that I was there, my inner thighs were so bruised I was happy I wasn’t home for my husband to see the damage, because he surely would have wondered what was going on.
My first week in KAF I wanted to cry my feet hurt so badly, and I begged that the whole tour wouldn’t be so bad and I would get accustomed to it. The second week wasn’t as bad, but it still hurt like hell. By the third week, I was starting to settle in easily. My feet weren’t hurting as much, and I knew my way around the place just fine.
Seven weeks into my adventure I am happy, happier then I have ever been in my life. I can say with all honesty that THIS is what I am supposed to be doing at this time in my life. I have met so many amazing people. Many of my new friends have been Americans. They find it funny that we say "eh" all the time and say that we pronounce our “O” differently. I find it funny that they say "y'all" all the time. All kidding aside, before saying goodbye to our newest friends, we spend long hours in the local posh coffee shop drinking lattes and mochas, smoothies and good old bottled water, you drink a lot of that here. We took KAF tour bus rides till the wee hours of the morning, talking, laughing joking and eating pizza. By the end of my tour I have come out of KAF sounding Camerican, half American, half Canadian. I say, eh after all my sentences, aboot instead of about, yet oddly enough I have an accent unlike that of a Canadian, but rather like someone from the south, and I wear sweaters in temperatures Canadians should normally find warm, something that even now most people find odd.
Nearly two months into my tour, I don’t understand why those that are almost leaving are so irritable, and nasty. Nothing here should come as a surprise to anyone. We were told what our work hours were going to be like well before we got here, and really in all honesty, it’s not that bad. We work normal hours that one would work while in Canada, most of the time anyways. I should count myself lucky that I met a great friend that will be leaving a week after me. We have decided that we will keep each other in check and that if one of starts to get grumpy that we’ll let each other know. More to come on this since not both of us managed to keep our promise.
It’s the beginning of my ninth week and I think it’s finally hitting me, the tiredness, the long hours, the lack of sleep, and the nonstop work days. I swear some days it feels as if I’ve been hit been hit by a mack truck. Today was the last day of days at TH and I’m glad it’s over. The early mornings can only be done in short stints for me, I’m not a morning person, although somehow I’ve managed a smile to everyone even before I’ve had my time to wake up. I loved getting off early and being to have the rest of the day to sit in the sun, have a nap, attend the events around base, or just hang out with friends, but the early morning shifts seem to go by so slow even though you’re crazy busy for all but an hour and a half of the last part of your shift. The clock seems to move so slowly. I’m tired, and exhausted, but I’m still keeping my sanity, my cheerfulness about me, and I still have a smile on my face.
I think I like the ice cream shop. Wait, did I just say that? I’ve only been there how many weeks already. Seriously, the time goes by so quick, and even though you don’t get off till closing you don’t start until two; you can sleep in, go to the gym, run errands such as I did many times, and it was a good time to get my eyebrows waxed, go to the market, and catch up on emails. You get all the benefits of a late start, but you can still make most of the late night events that go on. Two days into my new shift I’m feeling rested again. I’ve slept in till 11:00 and 10:00 am the past two days. I have every intention of getting up 8:00am to hit the gym early, but I can’t make any promises. That is always my plan, but as everyone knows, things don’t always go according to plan. I missed it this morning, and many mornings after, but made up for it by going for a run in the evening after work. Sometimes that’s just the way it is.