Friday, April 10, 2015

Hello Peshawar Pakistan, Part 2

Living in Pakistan, as a kid, was fun!  Even though we came in at the end of a war, I don’t ever remember being afraid while living there. It helped that there were eight-foot high brick or cinder block fences with barbed wire on them.  And I think there was glass embedded at the top too.

During this time, the Vietnam War was going on but because we didn’t have access to radio or TV, (my parents would occasionally listen to Armed Forces Radio) my brothers and I didn’t know anything about it. 

 My parents didn't share a lot with us about all that was going on in the world so we wouldn't be afraid and would continue life as usual.  Therefore, we didn't have a care in the world.

While there, my brothers and I, along with our friends, found lots of ways to entertain ourselves, because we didn’t have TV. We used to make up plays and perform them for our friends. We did some of the silliest things but enjoyed the heck out of it. We spent many hours at the pool and I joined the swim team one year. We didn’t like November because they would close the pool down to clean it. We were able to swim every other month. We spent a lot of time at the school playground too. It helped having both so close to our house. 

Family photo taken before we left Pakistan.
Another one of my friends was Veronica. Her brother Warren was my first boyfriend (third grade). I remember sitting with him and listening to Leaving on a Jet Plane, by Peter, Paul and Mary, from one of their records. I didn't know until recently that John Denver wrote that song.  Warren used to carry my books home from school. True love at the age of eight! 

Our back door neighbor had twin girls and they were fascinating. We had never seen twins before. And, they had an adult tricycle, which we also had never see before. It was a huge, three-wheeler, and they let us ride it. We all had bikes in Pakistan because we didn't have a car. It was very expensive to bring a car over so we didn’t have one for two years. The base was pretty small, so you could get around on it pretty quick with a bike.

This was another location where your friends become your family because it is so far from everyone’s home. To this day, we still have very good friends that we met in Pakistan. Our friend’s, the Turner’s, lived directly behind us. We shared the two guys who worked for us. They had one of them one day and we would have them the next. Every week, I think it was on a Wednesday, our two families would get together and have dinner. One week they would do the barbecue and the next week we would do the enchiladas. My mom made a mean batch of enchiladas. She got the recipe from another couple of good military friends, the Garza’s.

When we moved a couple years later back to Alaska, the Turner’s did too. We were blessed to be able to spend that many years being stationed with them.

Some of the things I remember about our stay in Peshawar were the festivals and squadron picnics. I remember being in a race during one of the picnics and losing because I was too concerned about what everyone else was doing. My dad gave me very sage advice after the race about looking straight ahead and finishing the race and then checking out what’s happening with the others. That's good advice for life too.  At some of these events, they would bring in camels and we got to take rides on them. We rode them several times. That was a ride I will never forget!

I remember a softball game that my dad played in that was so fun. Some people dressed up in different costumes, did weird plays and used trick softballs. One of the trick balls was a grapefruit that they had painted white and when it was hit, juice sprayed everyone that was close by.   Another fun time was when our friend, Mr. Turner had a fishing line attached to first base and he was in the outfield.  When the batter hit out to him, he took off running back and as he did the base moved with him.  The batter kept running trying to catch up to the base.  
I remember a lot of laughter at those games.

We had a small nine hole golf course on the base and I remember when people would hit their balls over the wall, little Pakistani kids would collect them up and bring them to the front gate and try to sell them back to the troops. Another way they would try to make money was to charm cobra snakes. We saw them do this once. They had a basket with a top on it and they would take the top off, and lure the snake out. These were big snakes and cobras are very poisonous. I wonder how many people died trying to train them.

We got to go on a day trip one time to the Khyber Pass, which is a pass up in the hills that connects Pakistan and Afghanistan. I remember the people we were with told us that many invasions started through this pass. I read somewhere that it was part of the ancient Silk Road and was one of the oldest passes in the world. I don’t think it made as much of an impression on me then, as it would today.

I was in Pakistan for part of third, all of fourth and part of fifth grade. I actually went to three schools for my fifth grade year.

We left Peshawar and headed for our next station, which was back to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. Before we headed north again, however, we went back to North Carolina to see family. We stayed there for about a month so we went to the school we had been in two years earlier. We got to reacquaint with some of our old friends. During this time we also prepared for our two-week trip up to Alaska, via the Alcan Highway. That’s a long time to be in a car, especially if you all get sick.

Today's Terri's Tidbit: I discovered a YouTube video done by a man named Bryan Nelson, who was stationed in Peshawar about the same time we were, and it shows a lot of what I have shared in this blog, even down to the Leaving on a Jet Plane song. Click here to see the video.

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