Thursday, May 11, 2006

Sonny World Tour 2006

Currently I am going through that bitter-sweet transition period before a long (6-month) deployment. I won't see my friends and my things here in VA until at least November as the winter starts to set in. The last days are basically just a whirwind of training and other activities to get you ready to go out in good shape. There's also all the usual "getting your house and things in order" type of stuff that needs to be done before a long trip. There's also the good-byes.

There are two ways to see something like this: as a curse or as an opportunity. My whiny side sometimes tells me to treat it like a curse, after all I've never been more than 2 years in one place since I've entered the service and the sense of rootlessness can sometimes wear on you. My strong side, my "warrior" side tells me to stop whining so much and get on with the tasks at hand. I try to listen to the latter side, but the whiner is always somewhere deep inside and sometimes it comes out when I found myself alone and over-thinking and over-analyzing everything.

Over the next six-months I will go to places I have never been to before. I work closely with new people. I have no idea what I am going to be facing. I know roughly what I am going to be doing but I am not an expert in the area and they told me I am expected to learn quickly. Of course. I might see some old friends since my career field is kind of small (and "incestuous" in some way), however, I am actually going to be working primarily outside of my main area of expertise. Flexing some new muscles, so to speak. Expanding my horizons. All that good stuff.

I am going to spend a big chunk of those six months overseas and that's always a mixed blessing depending on the country or region of the world. East Asia (Japan, Korea, etc.) is always fun for me. I don't know what it is, but I always feel a special energy running through my veins every time I touch down over there. I just don't know what it is. Maybe is the fact, (as I have mentioned before) that Asian women are so beautiful. Maybe is the fact that there's so many freaking people everywhere you go, which I don't like that much. Maybe is the fact that every time I've driven in Seoul I've been inches from sure death, which I guess it's kind or expected seeing that most Koreans drive like stuntmen from some bad Hong-Kong action flick. Latin America is also fun in a semi-masochistic, magic-realism kind of way. Plus, I am a native Spanish speaker which always helps. (I know enough Korean to get myself in trouble and I know how to read the Korean phonetic characters, but I don't know what the words that I'm reading actually mean. I know enough Arabic -and look somewhat Middle Eastern, I guess- that I've had a group of Arabic men just basically tell me their tribe's entire history - by what I could understand- starting from Abraham or Ibrahim. All I could hear was Ibrahim this and Ibrahim that until we got to Mohammed and then it was Mohammed this and Mohammed that, until somehow we got to the Americans-in-Iraq part which I guess these dudes were kind of conflicted about, since they were pointing their fingers up in the air and looked midly irritated, but then gave me, and the other American dudes in the group, a warm-ish farewell and some honey from their little store. I've also been expected to translate to the rest of the Americans, until I clarified that I only knew some phrases...and in the Syrian dialect. Go figure.) Back to the Western Hemisphere, I always get the runs every time I go to Central America. The first time I went there, my (steoreotyping-prone) buds were expecting me to be the most resilient to whatever germs they have down there because I am Hispanic, I kind of believed it myself for a day or two, until I had to run for the nearest restroom, and I won't get to graphic, but I felt like my whole lower intestine was liquefying. Thank God you can get all sorts of medicines with no prescription down there. (Actually, you can do that in some - I gues most from what I hear - Korean drugstores too. Never tried it in Southwest Asia and probably never will.) Maybe too much information. Beer is also very cheap in Central American countries, which is always a plus. In some nicer places they even give you "free" appetizers as long as you keep buying alcohol. (My heart is also broken every time I go to places where there's so much poverty while a few privileged drive around in Mercedes and Land Rovers and live in what amounts to small fortresses.) They also have some good-looking and nice women down there. But, I am not going to either East Asia or Latin America. So it's not really a World Tour per se since I will mostly be traveling in one area of the world. But World Tour sounds cool and it makes me feel like a rock star.

These little posts are kind of sweet, since I don't have to do any research or prior reading and I don't need to sound coherent at all. Not that I normally do anyway. Now I have to continue writing my part of a big-ass post-exercise report that I need to turn in before I go. The fun never ends.

Enjoy thyself abroad :-).

The "runs" is a common occurance for me with traditional Chinese food.... no idea why, but its highly embarassing with the girlfriend's family wondering why I start sweating and looking uncomfortable after eating the delicious food they cook.

Cool post.

Tahnks for the comments.

As long as you don't pull a Ben Stiller in Along Came Polly, you are OK.

I don't think my problem was associated with food, but with water and more specifically ice. I drank a soda with ice. The ice was probably made with tap water. That's actually one of the first things they warn you about before you leave and when you get to those countries (Honduras in that particular case). I learned my lesson.
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