The Basra Bugman Revisited.

I am re-posting this because I am still working on the Continuation of the ‘Sinai Field Mission Chronicles‘.

(Great Excuse, eh?) Anyway, some of you ‘newbies’ may not have had the wonderful ‘opportunity’ to have swerved into it. Therefore it is with great humility that I present it once again for your perusal.

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Bugs were a huge problem for us in Basra.

There were big bugs, small bugs, flying bugs, crawling bugs, creeping bugs, creepy bugs, sleepy bugs, scary bugs, poisonous bugs,  biting bugs, fighting bugs, suicide bomber bugs, and worst of all: No-See’um bugs. (Please don’t get me wrong: I love bugs:  Queendom  and Spiders)

But every day at precisely 1600hrs:

BUGMAN!

Basrah Bug Man
The BUGMAN Commeth: Bugs, watch yer ass.

We all worked in trailers, which passed for ‘Offices’ in Basra and we had A/C Window Units which would suck in the Bugman’s Offerings with vengeance. So everyday, at around 1600hrs, we kept collective ears tuned for the sound of Bugman and his Blower, lest we fail to turn off the A/C’s and become victim to BUGMAN.

The parlance always went like this: The one with the best hearing would announce in a low nonchalant voice:

‘The Bugman.” (almost a whisper, but we were all tuned in to those two words–we certainly did not want to be premature, because of the oppressive heat)

Then scramble to shut down all the A/C units ahead of relentless Bugman (no less than twelve window units), and life would go on, while we sat sweating (Yes, the heat was brutal, but so were the bugs).

“Here I come to savvve the day!!!”

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If You Don’t Mine, It Don’t Matter

There is sand in the Sinai Desert. Lots of sand. There is wind in the Sinai Desert. Lots of wind. There are landmines in the Sinai Desert. Lots of landmines, some dating back to the ’56 war. Most of them are still functional.

When wind and sand collide, the sand moves. In waves. The sand does not respect manmade things. Manmade things such as roads or landmarks, or mine fields. Sand does not care if it inconveniences you. Or puts your life in danger. Sand has no conscience and actually does not give two shits about you or me, or anyone or anything.

Sand is just sand.

These truths about sand were to become blatantly obvious to me one day back in 1978. I was driving my Chevy Van Passenger Vehicle to the Suez Canal to rendezvous with a similar R&R vehicle coming from Cairo. My vehicle was loaded with ten passengers, all very happy to be headed out on R&R. It was my simple job to get them to the rendezvous point so they could take the little boat across the canal, climb into the other van and head on to Cairo and their scheduled flights back to The Real World.

From SFM Base Camp to Suez is about thirty klicks.

untso_map3

SFM Base Camp Located Between
The Giddi and Mitla Passes

Travel time on average, an hour and change, depending on how long the Egyptians wanted to detain me at the check points along the way. I always brought along some packs of Marlboros to provide them when they insisted on ‘baksheesh’. No big deal. I could afford the bribe. Hell, in our little BX (Base Exchange) cigarettes were three bucks a carton.

This particular day back in ’78 was a day after a particularly savage sand storm. The roads to Suez are passable most days. And safe. Off-roading is not safe.

Stay on the pavement. I can compare it to the line from Apocalypse Now: “Never get out of the boat.”

As I drew closer and closer to the canal the roads began to get more and more difficult to discern. Now mind you, I had made the canal run many, many times, but I am a guy who can get lost in his own hometown of Honey Grove Texas, Population 1800. This is a small town, not too many ways to get lost, unless you are real creative. I am real creative.

I came to a point whereby I just could no longer make out the paved road. I took a turn in the general direction of the canal, hoping to pick up the road again after a few minutes. As I was bumping along I noticed one of those landmine signs:

mines

So did my passengers.

They freaked. I suppose this could be considered a normal reaction. They all started jabbering at once. I invited them to shut the hell up, and then I calmly backed the fuck out of the mine field, carefully retracing my inbound route.

Once I got back to the spot where I had obviously taken a wrong turn, I took the other turn and eventually made it to Suez. Picked up the inbound passengers and didn’t even have any shit to clean up in my vehicle, but I think at least one of my passengers had shit his pants.

Now all I had to do was make it back to Base Camp without any more drama. I gave it fifty-fifty.

postcard

Home, Safe Home

More to come on SFM

Here is a related post.

Thanks for reading.