Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Holidays

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas (or whatever your holiday of choice is) and a Happy New Year. All the best for the coming year.

I'm here in Calgary celebrating with family and having a nice, low-key Christmas. We went to a candle-light service at the United Church last night which was lovely. Brooke and I both commented that we actually miss the Maymont church where we were forced to attend services when visiting family in Saskatchewan. It's a tiny little wooden church that maybe holds 100 people but it has that feeling that churches should have. I guess life in a small town is beneficial in some ways.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Movin' on up

I can't believe that Christmas is on Sunday! How did the month pass so quickly and why aren't I finished shopping yet? I think this is unprecedented - I usually have all gifts bought and ready to go by the end of November but then again, my year has been slightly different than years past. One thing I am really looking forward to is getting home to Calgary and seeing all of my friends and family. A. is also coming out for a week to visit so that will be fun as well.

I just got back after spending a lovely four days in Kingston with A. I was afraid I was going to get stuck in Toronto on Thursday night because a huge snow storm moved in and they were cancelling most regional flights. Thankfully, after an hour delay we were off the runway and landed in Kingston with no problems. We didn't do a whole lot on the weekend but I had a great time. We even played Trivial Pursuit with his parents where I kicked some ass. I feel a rematch coming on in Calgary...

My month unemployed in Vancouver has been pretty uneventful. Mostly I've stuck close to home and done a lot of relaxing (aka. being lazy.) I did however, go to an interview for a higher position in my department at the library and was offered it the next day so when I go back in January I will now be a supervisor. That's a little scary but I'm sure after an adjustment period I'll be okay. I also like that now my title is actually Library Technician and not just Library Assistant. Woohoo, moving up in the world.

I do have a question for the few people that read this blog - what kind of gift can you get for a younger sister who will shortly be moving into her own apartment? I need something cool but small enough to lug onto the plane (and doesn't necessarily have to be home related.) Usually I don't have any problems buying Brooke a gift but this year I am completely stuck.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Book Aid posted about the Camel Mobile Library Service the other day, and through that posting I discovered a very cool organization called Book Aid International which provides books and journals to various institutions in countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa and Palestine. They aren't accepting used books at the moment but there are several other ways to show your support. If you are looking for a Christmas gift for a book lover who seems to have everything, I think this is a fabulous idea.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Motivation?! What's that?

After six months I have finally returned home - though if it's permanent I'm not so sure. The trip home was actually pretty good and I got to spend two fantastic days in Dubai and Amsterdam. I would have liked more time to do some shopping but unfortunately, with delayed flights and long taxi rides, the days were cut short.

It's taken me a while to write this post because I've found that since returning home I have very little to say and even less motivation to actually sit down and write it. Even though I was very eager to return home, and I am glad to be back in Vancouver, sometimes I find myself getting very antsy and wishing I was overseas again.


The situation in Afghanistan seems to be degenerating and another Canadian soldier was injured in a suicide attack.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Home awaits

My time here in Afghanistan is quickly drawing to a close and while I have enjoyed it, for the most part, I am quite looking forward to returning to Vancouver. I had contemplated trying to stay overseas and had applied for jobs in Sudan and here in Afghanistan, but these living conditions have really gotten to me (I've been sick for the past while) and frankly, I miss my friends and my life back in BC. I want to dress up in fancy clothes and not have to worry about getting them dirty. I want to be able to have more personal space than a 6' x 8' cell and I want to be able to go further than 2 square kms. I would have loved to have seen some of this country while I was here but because of security precautions, that isn't possible. I've seen pictures of the central part of the country from some of the Americans and there are beautiful lakes and waterfalls! Not something you ever expect to see in a war-torn dusty country.

I have also decided to apply for my co-worker's job at the college which could mean more money and a more comfortable life. I might even learn to stop spending so frivolously and not live paycheque to paycheque. Ok, who am I kidding, that's never going to happen. :)

Anyway, my time here has been memorable and I've met some very cool people. I only have one month left and then it is on to Cambodia and Vietnam with my friend Andrew for 10 days. Right now, the prospect of an amazing holiday is one of the things keeping me sane.

Hope all is well with you and I look forward to seeing most of you when I return to Canada.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


Yesterday morning at around 9am I experienced my first earthquake. I was standing in the middle of the office and suddenly started swaying. At first I thought it was just me because I had taken some cold meds that morning and wasn't feeling totally with it, but then Val, my co-worker, yelled, "Earthquake!" We assumed it was just a small local tremor but this morning I woke up and discovered that 18,000 people were killed in Pakistan in a quake that measured 7.6 on the Richter scale. It's very bizarre to have experienced something that had such a devastating impact and I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it.

My thoughts are with everyone trying to recover today.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


I know, I've been woefully negligent but I finally have the time (and motivation) to update this thing.

I've been back on camp for about three weeks and things are slowly progressing towards camp closing. My department is down to two of us which will make things pretty insane when we have to start clearing out masses of people but I'm sure we'll manage. Life here is pretty much the same as always although the temperature at night has dropped significantly. I can still wear shorts and t-shirts during the day (for the most part) but night requires jeans and a sweater. It definitely makes sleeping nice though.

My trip home was nice and I enjoyed the few days I spent in Dubai. During my two days there on the way home I went to the giant City Centre mall and did some shopping as well as met a fellow CANCAPer for dinner and a tour around the gold souk. There I bought a necklace in white gold that is my name in Arabic. And it was only $100 US! The flight home was pretty uneventful and my two weeks in Vancouver were pretty low-key. The highlights were my mom visiting, Matt & Susan's wedding (before which I badly injuring my foot by taking a little tumble down some stairs), a get-together at Emma and Laurel's, and a day trip to Seattle with E., L., and Brooke. Then I hopped back on a plane for the long flight to Amsterdam. Once back in Amsterdam I went into the city and took the tram to the Rijksmuseum to see some amazing Dutch art. Saw three Vermeers and a whole lot of Rembrandt as well as plenty of other Dutch masters. Going back to Afghanistan I had another day in Dubai which I spent at the Ibn Batutta mall (INCREDIBLE!) with Sarah and Sergei (friends from camp) and after we went for dinner at a Lebanese restaurant in the Dubai Marina hotel. Then it was time to leave for the airport and when we got there we discovered that our flight had been delayed for 5 hours. So we spent from 4am to 11am lounging in Terminal 2 in Dubai. Unfortunately, it's a small terminal and the only thing exciting was duty free. It was a long day to say the least.

So, I'm back "home" and getting ready to leave. My departure date is sometime mid-November so right now I am trying to plan my trip to Southeast Asia. I'm thinking of taking three weeks and seeing parts of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Some people here just got back from Cambodia and Vietnam and it sounds amazing so I'm quite looking forward to it.

That's about all the news I have so I'll sign off here. Hope all is well back in Canada and remember to keep in touch!

<3 C.

Friday, August 05, 2005

I know....

I haven't posted in a long time but honestly, I have a good excuse:

a) I haven't been on the internet in probably two weeks (I can't post from my work computer.)


b) There really isn't a whole lot to say.

Things are still going well here and I am making more friends all the time. The weather is sometimes unbearably hot (around 45 degrees everyday) and apparently it's not even at it's hottest yet! I finally moved into a permanent bed space so now I actually feel like I live here. The girl that was there before me even left a mat on the floor, a desk and a clothes rail! A really home-like environment, yeehaw. Too bad our space is smaller than a jail cell. Work is good but things have really picked up in the last two weeks and I have been given a lot more responsibility - right now I am doing my job, covering for someone in another sub-department, and starting Monday will begin a long-term file archiving project. At least I am kind of using my skills. We still play ball twice a week but this week we haven't played at all because most people are away on leave. Last week I got drilled in the shin with a line drive and now I have a nice big bruise to show for it. I've sorted out my leave and I am returning to Canada in 21 days! I'm spending three nights in Dubai to do some shopping and relaxing and then it's back to Vancouver for two weeks. My mom is coming out for a few days and Matt and Susan are getting married on Sept. 4th. I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone but I need to get working on my tan so it actually looks like I've been living in Afghanistan.

What else...

I've been taking lots of pictures here but won't be able to upload them until I get home. I just get way too frustrated with the slowness of the computers here and not being able to do it at work.

That's really about all I have to say. The days here are generally all the same so unless anything really exciting happens I'm sure you don't want to read about what I ate.

Oh! I experienced my first drill here and it really brought home the situation and where I am living. It didn't help that I had no idea it was a drill and was pretty freaked out. I was in the middle of photocopying when the alarm sounded and my boss told me to grab my PPE (personal protective equipment) and follow him to the bunker. We only sat in there for about 15mins before they gave the all clear but those were a long 15mins. Apparently drills can sometimes last up to 3 hours!

Anyway, time to go get my two drinks and then it's off to bed. Tomorrow's my day off and it's going to be the first day I can actually lie out and tan because my old tent was in a very public area.

Hope all is well with everyone at home and I will be seeing some of you in a month.

Friday, July 08, 2005


Well, it's been a while since my last update, and while nothing of any real importance has happened I thought I'd write all the same.

Things here are still going well and it's still hot although apparently it gets even hotter in late July and August - not so sure I'm looking forward to that. Canada Day was great and being over here makes everyone very patriotic. Human foosball was a lot of fun to play and hilarious to watch. Some of us even got roped into playing blind volleyball (they put a sheet over the net) because the rest of the team didn't show up. That night there was even a concert and they held Camp Julien Idol. All in all, a pretty good day.

I even had a good birthday despite all expectations. I've met some really cool people here and they organized a little something and even got me a cake. And thanks for all the emails - it was nice to hear from everyone.

Work is going well but things are starting to slow down a bit as we start ordering less and less. There's always something to do though and I am getting trained on the purchasing side of things as well so there is new information constantly coming at me.

That's about all that is new and/or exciting with me. It's my day off today so I have to find some way to amuse myself. I've already called home and checked my email so there will be a lot of wandering for the rest of the day. Maybe I'll work on my tan. :)

Hope all is well with everyone back home and keep in touch!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Canada Day

Just wanted to wish everyone a happy Canada Day from Camp Julien. I am just getting ready to go over to the parade square to hear the opening address and then the festivities officially begin. I'm participating in human foosball which seems interesting - they blindfold you and tie everyone together while your teammates on the sidelines tell you where to kick. There are two BBQs today and more exciting stuff happening tonight.

Have a fabulous day!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

I'm here

It is officially day two at Camp Julien and so far I am doing pretty well. After Amsterdam I flew to Dubai where even at midnight when I arrived it was 32 degrees with 90% humidity! Never in my life have I experienced something like that. I found a cheap hotel so I could shower and when I stepped out of the air conditioned airport I had trouble breathing and my glasses even fogged up! The hotel was really nice (and on $66/night) and although I was tempted by the bed all I was there to do was shower - it really helped to wake me up to. At the Dubai airport I met a few people who were going to Afghanistan to do their own work. Three from Canada going to teach English in the North, one from the States going to be an intern for Save the Children, and a guy from London who was going to help with the elections in September. It was really nice to have people to talk to and go through the craziness with so I wasn't totally alone. The Ariana flight into Kabul wasn't even that bad and at passport control there were even lines. The camp security guy was there when I got out with my luggage and then me along with a guy who was coming back from Egypt piled into the armoured Bison and headed to camp. So far the camp is exactly what I was expecting. I got most of my paperwork done yesterday and today I have my in-theatre training. Tomorrow will be my first day of work. It's also been really nice having my PDT group already here because then I at least know some people. The only bad thing so far is that I have a heat rash on my legs. It's not too bad but I should probably get something to put on it.

Well, that was my first day. It will probably be more of the same from now on so I might not have anything really exciting to report on but I will definitely keep you updated.

Thanks for all the encouragement!

Friday, June 24, 2005


After a long nine hour flight I am here in Amsterdam. The flight itself actually wasn't that bad and KLM has lived up to its reputation for being a great airline. They kept us fed and hydrated (non-stop beverage service), the wine was free, there was lots of leg room, they brought around hot towels periodically and the food was actually pretty good. I even managed to get a few hours of sleep which will help immensely. At the moment I don't feel overly tired (although I'm really hot!) but I do have a leg-ache so I know my body is protesting a bit.

Once I arrived in Amsterdam I went searching through the shops at Schipol to find a small purse because I didn't want to lug my insanely heavy carry-on around the city. Then I bought a roundtrip train ticket and came into the city. I got into Amsterdam proper at around 9am and the first thing I did was take a canal cruise. Definitely worth the 8 euros! I saw a lot of amazing architecture and actually managed to relax in the breeze coming off the water. Surprisingly the harbour and canals in Amsterdam are fresh water because of the locks that block off the sea. Now I'm trying to decide what to do for the next hour. I wanted to go to the Rijksmuseum but it's pretty far away so I nixed that plan. I was also thinking about going to the Anne Frank House but we passed it on the cruise and there was a huge line-up. I think I'll just find a nice cafe and sit outside in this amazing city.

My flight leaves for Dubai at 2:35pm so I should be at the airport around 12:30 or 1:00. Hopefully that flight goes as well as the one over here. I'm kind of nervous about traveling all the way on my own (the guy I was supposed to meet up with was delayed) but I'm sure it will be okay. As long as I can find a place in Dubai to shower and change clothes I'll be happy.

My love to you all.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


The time has come to unplug all electronics and get ready for the nine hour flight to Amsterdam. I hope everyone has a fabulous summer!

The next time you'll hear from me, I'll be in Afghanistan!

Sunday, June 19, 2005


I haven't even arrived in Aghanistan and already I am thinking about what I want to do for my holiday. I think I've decided to not come home (I was going to fly home for Matt's wedding at the beginning of September but since the elections in Afghanistan are Sept. 9th they don't let you travel for a week or two on either side) and instead use my alloted airfare and time to do a tour of Europe. Besides, when else will I get this opportunity? I'd probably start out in Malaga, Spain at the beginning of October so I can go to the Belle & Sebastian show on the 9th (as long as it's not sold out, if so, all of my plans will change.) Then I will purchase a Eurail Selectpass for travel in 5 countries and go through France, Italy, Austria and end up in Hungary where I will hopefully meet up with Marianne and the Raj. I'm already getting excited! (All of this is, of course, dependent on how much money I have saved - if I'm poor I'll probably just come home where life is considerably cheaper.)

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I got my itinerary today and it turns out that I'm not actually leaving until next Thursday the 23rd. This is good because it gives me more time to get things sorted at home, pack and see friends but I was basically ready to go and now I have to wait 4 extra days. Plus, this means that I will have to buy more groceries and pay for bus fare - and I can't even work because HR has informed payroll to stop salary payments as of Monday. Grr...

I'm meeting another new employee (who I've never met) in Amsterdam and together we are flying on to Dubai. I'm really looking forward to going into Amsterdam for a few hours and seeing some sites. I'd love to be able to take a canal cruise, go to the Rijksmuseum and see Anne Frank House but I don't think that will all be possible. At the most I will probably have four hours in the city and that's being generous. When I found out which day I would be in Amsterdam I emailed Brooke and tried to convince her to fly out from London for a few days and hang out with me in the morning but unfortunately her Scotland tour coincides with me arriving. And she said it's my fault because the only reason she is going to Scotland is because I've always wanted to go there. heh. So that's too bad but I couldn't have expected her to actually be able to make it.

Hopefully the rest of the people in my PDT class that went home will be ready to fly out on Thursday because it would be nice to see Amsterdam with people I actually know. I'm sure it will all turn out well, I just have to wait another week without going crazy.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Home from Kingston

After a long week spent cramming information into my head I am now home for another week or so. It is nice to be home so I have a chance to finish everything up but a part of me wishes I was leaving with the rest of the group tomorrow. However, there were 5 of us that had to go home for various reasons so I imagine they will try and get us all out together.

The week of training was a lot of fun. The NBC training was fun if tiring and greasy, hostage taking and mine awareness were really interesting, the fire training was cool and I am now a certified level 1 first aider and I hold a level A CPR. We spent a fun-filled Thursday evening at the Toucan pub in downtown Kingston and went on to another "interesting" establishment and last night we hung out around the pool and ordered pizza. The entire week was hot and humid with the exception of a few hours when it drizzled.

I met some really great people and I am looking forward to spending more time with them at the camp. In fact, I really can't wait to leave!

When I got home today I discovered that Aaron, Shaun, Emma, Laurel, Marianne, Celeste and Brad had decorated my condo and put flowers all over the place. How could I ask for better friends? I want to leave it all up because it looks so nice, especially the streamers and shooting stars that hang over my bed.

I've uploaded pictures from training to Flickr so please check them out.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Hola from Kingston

I'm at the downtown public library, day two here in Kingston is finished and so far everything has been going swimmingly. Yesterday was a pretty long travel day - at the airport for 6am, didn't get to Kingston until 6pm after a 2.5 hour drive from Toronto - but it was exciting all the same. Once we all got settled into the hotel (I get my own room!) we were taken over to the Vimy Mess at CFB Kingston for dinner. This is where we will be eating breakfast and dinner everyday and does it ever remind me of being at cadet camp, except the food here is better than we ever had at Penhold or Cold Lake. It's been really warm the last two days (32 yesterday, 29 today) and very humid. Last night after everyone arrived we hung around outside of our rooms and chatted. People came from all over the place and it's interesting hearing everyone's motivation for coming. It seems that on the whole everyone was looking for some adventure. Even though I was pretty tired yesterday it took me a while to fall asleep. I watched some TV (finally caught an episode of the final season of QAF) and went to bed at about midnight. Call time for breakfast was 7am but it seems that when I was trying to hit snooze on the alarm at 5:45 this morning I turned it off instead. Finally woke up at 6:55 and managed to brush my teeth and throw on some clothes. At least I didn't get left behind like two other guys did! Today was spend completing paperwork, getting vaccinations, having a general orientation to Camp Julien and SNC and getting fingerprinted. Tomorrow should be an exciting day - we are doing the nuclear, biological and chemical warfare defense training with gas masks. We've been told to wear long sleeves because we have to put this decontamination goop on all exposed skin while our eyes are closed and we are holding our breath, as well as get the mask on and apparently we only have 9 seconds to do everything! And, it's one of those drills that if you don't get it right the first time they make you do it again and again.

I haven't seen much of Kingston yet but what I have seen looks really nice. After we are finished here Meredith (one of my fellow PDTers) and I are going to take a walk around and check out the architecture. There are some amazing gothic limestone buildings in the downtown area. I guess you can't expect any less from one of the oldest towns in Canada. At some point, I also want to walk down to RMC and check it out. Our nights are free so I'll have plenty of time to do some exploring.

Anyway, it seems like it will be a good week and so far I've met some really cool people. I'm going to take some pictures and hopefully post them when I get home on the weekend. Looks like I will probably be leaving on the weekend of the 18th depending on when the flights go out, and, I've heard that there is usually a stop-over in Amsterdam so I might get a chance to take a ride into the city and check it out!

Wish me luck with the gas masks! :)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Let the fun begin

So things around here have been pretty crazy the last few days. Ever since I accepted the offer I have been running around trying to finish everything in two days instead of the weeks that people normally have. I've sorted everything with the college, gone for my immunizations (my arm still hurts!), had extra passport photos taken, and been certified criminal record free. I've purchased a few things that I will need to take with me but I still need to buy sheets and other essentials as well as figure out how I am going to stuff a pillow into my duffle bag without sacrificing any clothing. Gah!

Tomorrow I will have to pack for my week in Kingston and then when I return to Vancouver I will still have another week to finish work and get everything ready to leave for Afghanistan. Plus, there are friends to see and drinks to be had. A lot to fit into a week.

On top of everything else, I have had the same headache since last weekend. It comes and goes but it's getting pretty annoying. I'm fairly certain it's stress but I guess I'll have to wait and see.

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes - it really means a lot.


Oh, and does anyone know if I can upload my photos without using the Canon software? When I am in Afghanistan I want to be able to share pictures I take but I won't be able to install software on the computer. Can I just upload straight to Flickr?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I got it!

This is all taken from livejournal and reposted here.


Now, back to the phone call and my cryptic LJ entry from Friday. One of our SAIT classmates is working in Afghanistan at Camp Julien and she sends us periodic emails with updates on her life and travels. I've always thought it sounded really exciting so I told her if she heard of anything to let me know. Well, she did. I emailed her my resume and Friday morning I received a phone call from a recruiter in Kingston, ON. He basically told me about the job and told me that the people from Afghanistan would want to do a phone interview early in the week. If everything went well I could be in Kingston on Monday June 6th for training. I had my phone interview at 6:30 this morning (there's an 11 1/2 hour time difference) and hopefully I should hear something by tomorrow. I think the interview went well and they were only interviewing two other people so we'll see. It's for a six month contract and I'd be leaving within the month. I'm very excited about this amazing opportunity and I REALLY hope I get the job. Sarah said that her time spent in Kabul has been the most incredible of her life and I'd love to get the chance to experience it. So, I could really use any good thoughts you have to spare. And, if I do get it I'll probably be looking for someone to sublet my fully furnished condo for six months. So if you know of someone...


I got the job!!! They called me 10 minutes ago and offered the position of LPO clerk at Camp Julien in Kabul, Afghanistan. I leave on Monday for Kingston, ON for training for a week and then it's back here to finish work and tie up loose ends.

Holy crap, I can't believe I am actually moving to Asia for 6 months.