Wednesday, July 14, 2010

2. Cayden, Mountain Man

Earlier today Cayden said, "I admire and respect your work so much more now having tried to write these posts myself. So damn difficult!"

He said he hopes he's not boring you or giving too much detail about something you don't want to hear about or not enough detail about what you do want to hear about. I told him not to worry about it, that yall would forgive him either way. But while you're reading, he's open to your questions and suggestions, so please feel free to comment below, email, or tweet them to me.

To tell you the truth, I'm kind of glad he agreed to write about himself for you, because I'm learning the details of his past (the good, the bad, and the ugly) right along with you...


So the early years of my Royal Air Force career, I guess I was finding out who I was as a person. I got drunk, did stupid things as most young men do and enjoyed the freedom of being single. Life was great but I wasn’t really happy.

Something was missing and I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I needed a new challenge.

In the Fall of 2002, I was posted to Cyprus, a small island in the Mediterranean sea, just south of Greece. I had heard so many stories about Cyprus being a party island, lots of women, all year round sun, and I was elated when I found out I was posted there for 3 years. I was due to be living a 10-minute drive from the coast and a 25-minute drive from Agia Napa, the party capital of the Med. I was taunting my old colleagues before my departure because I’d be sunning it up on the beach whilst they were left to endure the awful wet and miserable English weather.

Little did I know that they would have the last laugh!

When I arrived in Cyprus in late November, I was greeted by my welcome party who loaded my luggage into a 4x4 vehicle. As we set off, I introduced myself to the welcome party and said I’m really looking forward to my time on the Island.

"Why aren't we traveling on the coast?" I asked, as we drove further and further inland.

"We’re going to Troodos,” they said.

"What the hell is Toodos?"

“Do you see the lights up in the sky?”

I looked up, and said, “yes."

“That’s Troodos.”

Out in front of us, up in the darkness of the sky, were bright orange lights in the distance. This wasn’t right, I decided I’d been picked up by the wrong welcome party.

I rooted around in my backpack and took out my welcome letter from the Officer in Command of the base near Agia Napa.

"I think there’s a mistake, I’m supposed to be going here," I said, pointing to my map.

“Yeah, we thought you’d say that, but now you’re going to be working on top of that mountain.”

What the hell had happened? This wasn’t in the brochure. I’d be calling for a full re-imbursement and upgrade to 5-star if I was on holiday. As it was though, I wasn’t on holiday. The Royal Air Force owned my ass and could send me wherever, whenever….and as I quickly came to realise, without telling me either.

I finally arrived after an hours drive to my new home for the next 3 years. An isolated small base on top of a mountain, with the nearest civilisation 10km away. It seemed really misty when I got out of the car, the wind was blowing, and it was close to freezing. Then I realized it wasn't mist. I was standing in the clouds.

When I’d put my luggage in my room, the guys said they’d be in the bar upstairs. Hmmmmmm, again in my life, I was thinking that there was only one thing that could make a bad situation bearable: Get drunk! I walked up about 6 flights of stairs and was panting when I’d got to the bar. There were 6 guys in there, laughing at the site of me.

"I need to get down to the gym," I said, trying to catch my breath.

"Don’t worry about it, it’s the altitude. The air is thinner up here so just walking will work your body more."

After a few more questions about how I came to be where I was, it became apparent that despite the spectacular views, the dense forests lining the mountain sides, and the cheap bar that I found myself in, I’d be living with just 6 other single guys on a mountain for 3 years, with not a single girl in sight.

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