Friday, February 13, 2009


Okay, so I just returned from a week of overseas security-type training before the move to Khartoum. Someone claims that Sudan is not technically "safe" for Americans, so I had to take a class on personal security. Essentially, this means that I spent a week being ambushed, attacked and abused. I did learn something from this training though: In the event of a terrorist attack, you do NOT want me anywhere around you -- especially, if you might need help or assistance.

Turns out that I pretty much freak under stress. Even when I know it is a fake attack, I freak. So this is my humiliation: I know the attack is coming. Why do I know this?? I'm not magic or clairvoyant, I know this BECAUSE THEY TELL ME...they explain in excruciating detail what is going to happen, what they expect you to do and how you are supposed to react. In fact, they illustrate what you are expected to do. However, this does not reassure me...this makes it worse. Now I KNOW someone is coming to get me. I KNOW they're gonna spring...and I know what is going to happen to me.

They assure you that they will not (in reality) kill you. However, they DO use paint gun bullets so that you can experience a sharp reminder that you do not want to be hit by a bullet. They claim, this "sting" will create a memory that will ensure that you do not linger.

They might have a point. I have a left leg full of large round bruises to prove it.

However, while I patiently wait for my turn to be ambushed, I begin to panic. Immediately, I have to go to the bathroom - which, technically might not be allowed in a real ambush -- or so I hear...So I suffer.

I am waiting patiently for the explosions and gunfire to begin with my partner Kim (yet another chick you probably do not want on your team should shit hit the fan. But she's super funny! She'd be great before the attack, but not so much of a help during any such attack....write that down: Kim and Michel = no help, big hindrance.)

So we're instructed to pull the vehicle over. We begin to panic....the time drags on.... we get more and more nervous....looking around....asking, "WHAT WAS THAT??!?! " -- We start to scream... Oh, a bird.... the instructor points out that we are in the staging area and it is not yet our turn. (I can practically hear him rolling his eyes).

He instructs her to drive down this dirt road and turn into this smaller side dirt road - a road, I must point out that I would NEVER go down....EVER... looks like the opening scene of Wrong Turn and I just know that we're going to get picked off and turned into jerky! PLUS, I'm waaay chubbier than Kim! They'd totally take one look at me and know that I'd be waay more tender and marbled than she was....

So we're inching along at less than one mile an hour, swearing and screaming as we go -- At one point I make the decision to try to jump out of the car -- F this place! I've seen the movie! I'm not going in!!! -- but my stupid seat belt has me trapped and the door is locked -- damn child locks!! After what seems like approximately 17 minutes of inching down the road, the chaos ensues! Bombs go off, guns are blaring and we are both screaming and trying to get out of the car! I finally manage to get my belt off and the door opened and I jump out of the car and run like hell! I am not sure what happened to Kim, I recall passing her at one point and screaming "RUN!!!" then I took off and never saw her until she came bounding past my hiding place in the trees. We both sat there cowering, shaking, and gasping for air behind a large tree, which I am sure was suitable cover from terrorists....

We could hear the instructors yelling, "Okay....Come back..." F that! We're not stupid. Those bastards shot us with paint balls!!!

After they finally coaxed us back, promising that it was over, we returned to find many of them doubled over laughing. Apparently, the instructor in our vehicle had his mike open and they heard our screaming panic before the exercise began. Kim forgot to put the vehicle in park and it continued down the road with the instructor in the back as we ran like hell from the car. He had to crawl over the front seat to stop the car that was heading off into the trees. It did, however, apparently distract the attacker instructors and prevented them from giving us the full force of the paint balls. (Thank God because, OWE!)

The instructors claim that we ran screaming in what appeared to be a couple of figure 8s before we finally took off into the trees. They said it looked like a doubles figure skating competition. (I believe we were given all 7s, something of which I've decided to be proud....)

Allegedly, you are not supposed to run off and leave you partner behind to fend for themselves. Apparently, you're supposed to work as a team to find cover and escape to safety. I'm not sure how that is supposed to be accomplished when they are shooting at you -- and frankly, never want to have to try that again!!! However, after watching the other teams go through this same exercise I do know this: we girls really do know how to get out of the car and run like hell. The boys, not so much. In addition, it apparently, is not manly to run screaming. I feel for the boys. Because, you know they were screaming inside!!! That shit was scary!!!

Kim and I did, however, receive an award for the most creative use of swear words in any outdoor exercise.

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