Friday, July 30, 2004

Brown man - Black Sea

Well yesterday I got a much-needed break from the daily grind here. 3 weeks of 16 hour days was starting to take its toll on me.

Myself, along with about 50 other soldiers here got the chance to blow off some steam at the Bulgarian town of Nessebar.

Nessebar is a very small island that used to be used as a fortress during time the Byzantine Empire ruled most of the known world. It has a very unique architectural look that blends both Arab and Roman techniques. This gives the town a very old and noble look to it. More importantly however, is the existence of a topless beach down the road.

We had no idea of what to expect really. They only gave us a brief description of the place then cut us loose on the population. It is a tourist town, so we weren’t the only non-locals running about the ancient city.

We started off in Nessebar, and quickly hopped onto a boat that took us around the horn of the island. The view was great even though the boat was horribly slow, and the driver was a large overweight Bulgarian who insisted on driving his boat without his shirt, exposing a gorilla like back. Nasty.

After about a half hour ride we reached the dock to Sunny Beach. Unfortunately there was no room for us to dock. So we pulled close next to another boat, and proceeded to jump from our boat across 3 others to reach the dock.

This beach was packed! It was so awesome. There were people there from everywhere: Russia, Armenia, Kosovo, and a host of other countries. First things first, I was dressed in jeans, polo shirt, and tennis shoes. I had to get some new gear.

First off I had to get a sea shell choker necklace. Well, there was no short supply of those. I picked one up for like 3 lev, then ran across the street to the shoe store. I picked up a pair of very imitation Nike sandals and paid about 20 Lev for them. Which figures out to be 15 dollars roughly. So I popped on the sandals and necklace. Then gave my jeans a Capri pant-like cuff, unbuttoned my shirt, and tada! A Tropical outfit in less than 30 seconds. Sexy!

With my new ensamble intact me and my fellow soldiers went back down the beach and picked out a choice spot with an umbrella that we didn’t have to pay for. The next move is obvious…

We went Swimming in the Black Sea.

There were no waves, but the water was nice and surprisingly clean and devoid of any visible trash. We did the typical water wrestling, throwing, and dunking. I was able to hold my own but the bastards ganged up on me and threw me into a near by crowd. I barely missed some little kid. I could see the terror in his eyes as my shadow fell over him, but I turned to the side enough just to give him a through splashing.
Next on our list was the Jet Skis. So we waddled on down the beach making sure to take note of the very “friendly” beach goers as we passed. Luckily, the jet skis were not out at the time and we got to ride right off the bat. Like I said there weren’t any decent waves, so we had to settle for jumping the wakes of the Parasailing boats. Those jet skis were a Blast! We had so much fun. Laughing and talking shit to each other was we rode past one another.

So with that out of our system we went back to our spot on the beach and back out into the water for a bit. There we hooked up with some girls errr…women…I forget my age now. Anyway, these chicks…yeah, chicks… were from Armenia. One was a teacher, the other a Dental assistant, and the other was an assistant of some type. They weren’t too bad on the eyes, but one was hot like fire. She was into my friend Levi, but Levi has a girlfriend back in Germany, who is pretty hot in her own right. Levi was like…

“X, help me stop! She’s so hot, but I have a girl.”

I proceeded to instruct Levi on the 3rd world rule.

“What happens in the 3rd world is stays in the 3rd world and not to mention you are protected by Amnesty International.”

Levi did not seem to think that was an actual rule. The girls invited us out that night for drinks, but damn the luck. We had to be back at the pick up spot at 8pm. Levi was crushed. As was his new Armenian girlfriend Sonja. And we all know there is only one cure for heartbreak.

Ice Cream. Lots of sweet, sweet, ice cream. Then liquor, sweet, sweet, liquor.

In about hour Levi and the rest of us had all but forgotten about our brush with Black Sea babes. Then we went shopping.

The main strip leading out of Sunny Beach was like a huge flea market. Knock-off everything. Burberry, Louis Vutton, and all other named brands. It was very cool. One of my friends bought a pretty cool switchblade, and other guy went nuts and bought like 3 soccer jerseys for like 50 Lev. A very sweet deal.

After that little excursion we headed back to Nessebar and went looking for dinner. We found a cool restaurant by the sea that had some really great seafood. We ate, drank, and laughed for about 2 hours before having to head back for the pick up spot.

It was a great trip and we all had a blast. If you ever get the chance you have to see Nessebar. I spent about 100 US all day. The dollar goes far here, and everything is naturally cheap. The beach is lined with hotels, bars, and clubs. I know I am defiantly heading back.

Thank you taxpayer. I partied on your dollar. Woot!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

A Psycho Shower

Okay, so here’s the deal.  After work, we do PT(physical training) at around 2100(9:00 pm).  Then we take a shower and hit the rack.  This is our normal everyday routine.

Last night, we get done with PT and I’m sweating like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.  So I go into one of like 10 shower trailers here.  Each trailer has about 6-8 showers in it depending on size.  There are however, the Colonel and Sergeant Major showers.  These only have 3 stalls and only the Colonel and Sgt Major can use them between hours of 0600 and 0800.

I’m looking for a free shower and I poke my head into the trailers and the majority of them are packed.  So I’m getting irritated.  Then I go a bit farther down the shower site than I’ve been before.

I see the Colonel/Sgt Major sign on the door, and figure “What the hell, its late, and no where near the restricted hours.” 

I open the shower door and find its empty, “Sweet!”  I have the whole thing to myself.  Hence, I proceed to go about my nightly body cleansing ritual.

I hop into the shower and after about a minute I hear female voices and laughter coming from the trailer next to the one I’m showering in.  Turns out the shower I’m in is separated by a wall, but still part of another trailer.  I look up and follow the piping in the shower to a small section of the wall that is cut out and which the pipes run through to the other showers.


I’m still hearing female voices and they are coming from the other side of that wall.  So now my natural hunter/gatherer curiosity kicks in and of course I raise up on my tip toes to see what all the commotion is about over there.  Alas, the shower was engineered so that no such action is possible.  So, I proceed to continue with my shower.

I hear more voices, louder than the first.  I ignore them and continue about my cleaning.

Then I realize that the voices are coming from inside MY shower trailer.  “What the hell?”

I gently pull aside the shower curtain ever so slightly to peek outside and lo!  My eyes behold what appears to be a poorly braided weave attached to a female soldier.

“No way.”

Right now I’m thinking these girls just came into a male shower, “WTF?”  I continue to rinse my hair out thinking maybe they’ll realize they made a mistake.  One minute passes and they are still talking.

“Oh Shit.”

Right now my mind is racing.  Should I say something?  Maybe I could wait till they get into the shower then try and make a run for it, and they’ll never know.  Then I start to think about what could happen.  I could get an Article 15, discharge, and all types of horrible things.  So I clear my throat, gather some courage, turn off the shower, and say

“Excuse me.”

A light female voice says. “Yes.”

“Is this a female shower?” I politely inquire.

“Yes, it is.”  Then the second voice says, “Oh no he didn’t!
“I’m glad you said something, we’ll step out for second.”  The first one says.

So I wait till they leave, and get dressed still wet.  I hastily throw my stuff into my hygiene bag.  Shampoo bottle still uncapped.  Soap not in the container.  I mean I just chunked it all in there, and got the hell out of there.

I make my way past them, with my head low, and apologize as they are giggling.

“Its alright.” One of them said as I power walked back toward one of the crowded but extremely MALE showers.




Bulgarian Holiday

So here I am.  Nestled among the towering mountains of Bulgaria.  The sun beating down on me like I stole something.  All in the name of Freedom, Democracy, and lower oil prices for all!


Anyway.  Currently Im somewhere in central Bulgaria on a NATO training mission.  This is the first such mission that the US and Bulgaria have ever joined together on.  Actually this is the first time the US has ever been in Bulgaria.  So it pleases me to be the first.

When we got off the plane, I mean C130, we were doing a lot of "Army firsts."  Guys were going around doing stuff like: the first Army moonwalk in Bulgaria, the first Army charlie-horse, and a lot of other non-sense.  It was funny though.

The C130 is a propeller plane that is very noisy and uncomfortable.  There are no seats.  There is a large net that takes the shape of a bench.  On this net bench, the soldiers sit with weapons between their legs.  Luckily, I had been up late the night before so I was tired as hell, and had no issues knocking out on the plane.  Oh, I almost forgot the best part.  There is no private toilet.  There is a hole type thing near the rear of the when  you go...Everyone can take pictures.

The camp here is not bad at all.  There are around one hundred GP-Mediums (10 person tent) up around the camp, which is simply called Bulwark at the moment.  Though they will probably rename it soon enough.  This camp has over one thousand soldiers at it right now.  I am responsible for providing phones, internet, and video to all of them. 

When we first got here, we had to unload our vehicles from trains, called "rail-loading", and bring all of our equipment back here.  We worked for 24 hours straight then got 5 hours of sleep, got back up and worked for another 24 hours.  We were programming routers, servers, and phone switches all night.  Then we ran over 50km of cable around the camp, not to mention burying it.  Have you ever tried to bury anything on a mountain?  Mountains are made of rocks...not fun.  Oooh, and here is the kicker.  Before we got here they said, that there was UXO (unexploded ammunition) here, so we didn't have to dig.  We get here and they are like..."Go ahead and bury that cable."  We replied "What about the UXO?"  They answered "We'll look into that, but go ahead and get that cable buried."


Turns out that the UXO is about 5 miles from here on an old Bulgarian mortar range, so all is cool.

We actually had to make one cable run that was 2km straight.  Its to the range tower that oversees the urban combat range.  We are going to get some training on clearing rooms.  Thats the part in movies you see when the guys bust into the room with weapons ready to lay waste to any hostiles in it.  Thats going to rock!

As for now, we have been here 2 weeks going on 3 and everything is chill now.  Thats the best thing about being Signal Corps.  You bust your ass for about a week straight, then chill for the duration of the mission.

We hooked up the Medevac guys with some extra phones and internet in their sleep tent so they are going to be taking us up in the Blackhawks to check out the mountain passes tomorrow which should be very cool since I have not been in a "whirlybird" before.  One of my buddies here Neito went up two days ago and said it was awesome.

Thats all for now.  Hopefully I'll keep to this blog. 

Monday, July 26, 2004

Well now

A new high speed blogger! Woot!