I arrived at Qatar at 10:30 at night, it was 115 degrees with high humidity. Ugg. The first night I shared one room with three other women, two bunks. Each of us had a packed duffel bag and a personal suitcase. You could barely move, but we all knew these arrangements were temporary. Two of the woman would be going to some other (worse) base. I finally moved into a larger room with one other girl. The room was about the size of a medium sized bathroom, with two beds and two lockers, one at the end of each bed. I could hardly even open my locker it was so near the end of my bed. I worked nights, going in at 4:00 and leaving at 2:00. I'd stay up until around 7:00 am then wake up again at 3:00. My goal was to sleep the deployment away. Sleep, eat, work out, and work.
There is a squadron called the Services squadron. They are in charge of a lot of things including meals and entertainment. They did an outstanding job. One building was set up like a recreational center. It had two pool tables, a room for people to play cards or board games, a room with a big screen tv and a schedule of fairly new movies. There was also a movie theater that was comparable to any you'd see in your own city. the dining facility was great, they really went out of their way to make the deployment as enjoyable, all things considered, as possible. I was there from the beginning of September to the 15th of January. Christmas was a bummer. At the time my son was six and my daughter was almost five.
The nearest city is called Doha and I was told it's called, Little America, because so many Americans contractors live there and because of all the American fast food. There was a contractor I worked with who lived off base, twice a week he'd bring me Starbucks. Can you believe that? I couldn't. You could go off base in groups but I never did. I figured any place called Little America was gonna get bombed sooner or later and that day would probably be the day I decided to visit. It hasn't happeded yet, thank god.
The bathrooms and showers were in an entirely different building, made the morning pee a mad dash. We were only supposed to take three minute showers, to conserve water, most people ignored that rule. You had to, my goodness you were always sweaty there. You could take a shower and get dressed, and before you got to the bus that took you out to where you worked, you were drenched again. I kid you not. It did eventually get chilly, sometime in Nov/Dec, thank goodness and I did lose over 25 pounds there, I'm sure the heat helped. Everyone loses weight while deployed, cause people have little to do besides work and work out. I said Services was great, but on your day off there still a lot of hours to kill. I had one day off and sometimes I wished I didn't even have that. I just wanted the deployment over.
Once home, there is a surreal feeling. Driving is really strange at first because you haven't done so in over four months. In Qater it is all desert and white rocks. So coming home and seeing the trees and grass is cool too. Everything seems so vivid when you first get home, kind of like cartoons and you want to tell everyone you run into where you just returned from. Because the world seems so strange at first.
When I returned (in 2005) there had just been a tsunami. I was asked if I was there, I said no--I'd been where they shoot at you, not where you might drown. Kind of morbid humor, but it's hard to explain how disconnected you feel at first. It passes though.
Anyways, this was my experience while in Qatar, not so bad really.