Monday, January 26, 2009

Baklava in Baghdad

I had a great meeting with my counterpart, he gave me some baklava that was outstanding, I couldn't relate through the interpreter just how good it was. I felt like a pig eating it, but I couldn't help myself. We had a great talk, spent some quality time with him. I think I will have a good time this year, he seemed impressed with my limited Arabic skills and when I said I could read and write, he seemed amazed. Hopefully by the time I leave here I can visit with him sans interpreter. That is my goal, but not sure if I will make it. Anyway, I have been sick the past 2 days and still feel bad, but in a few days I will actually get off the FOB. Yes, I've been a FOBBIT of late, but I have no desire to go anywhere for anything. Too much hassle just to go to a PX for crap I don't need.

Anyway, not much else to update, just hanging out and trying to learn my job in a few days. Will try to update soon if something exciting actually happens.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Settling in

We made it through Baghdad from Taji to our base here in Southeast Baghdad. It's a small compound within an Iraqi compound. Yes, we're completely surrounded, but this time the Iraqis are our friends. There seems to be a lot of dogs here, the guys here say they have killed over a hundred of them, have to because they may be rabid. On the way in, we saw a bunch of them chasing a poor little donkey. The ride over was about an hour and a half, through the heart of Baghdad. I wanted to video but was told not to, though it wouldn't have been very good anyway. It was interesting to see the progress in the country, I was happy to see many checkpoints and police along the route. Though there is still danger from IEDs, it has been relatively quiet here of late.
Our rooms are actually sub-rooms of larger rooms partitioned off with plywood for privacy. I have one of the rooms with a door so I can lock it, others have to put up blankets but people respect privacy. We probably will move once the other guys leave, depends on if the rooms are bigger, I like mine because it is dark, no windows and the walls are high. But I only have one outlet and the light on one side doesn't work well. So I will see what is available and don't mind staying where I am if the other places aren't better.
A few of you may wonder why I don't talk about what I do, well for one I haven't started my job yet, and for another, we aren't allowed to talk about specifics so I thought it best to give my impressions of Iraq in general, and relay funny things or really what I think is interesting. I will update as often as I can, but no guarantees it will be updated daily or even weekly. I plan to include stories of our interactions with the Iraqis but I will not include names or actual places. As for where I am, well southeast Baghdad is good enough, I hope you understand. We are near two Coalition FOBs on an Iraqi base. It's fairly safe, but again you should never get complacent. Well, that is all for now, will update as soon as I can.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

From Baghdad..

Well, finally made it here to Camp Taji, north of Baghdad. The accommodations are apparently old Iraqi barracks, but western style bunk beds with mattresses. Getting here was rough, took all day. Started out at 0200 wake up at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, then on to Ali Al Salim AB, Kuwait, at 0330. Get there at 0445, then waited around until about 0700 when we boarded buses to the plane, a C-17. The plane took off at 0822, landed at BIAP (Baghdad International Airport) at 0925. We then de-planed, processed in, then took buses to Camp Striker where we had cots to crash on. We had lunch there (I Had Burger King, Chow hall was not open yet), went to the PX and local vendor shops, then back to the tent for a 1600 bus ride back to BIAP. Once there, we found out our helicopter, CH-47 Chinook, would be in about 1915. We went to eat at the Chow Hall which was quite nice, then back to the waiting area for the helos. They came a little early, and we were on the second chock, so about 1900 we loaded up. Packed in like sardines, the flight was only about 10 minutes, but was my first helicopter ride. Kind of cool, different than a plane definitely. We get to Taji about 1935, grab our gear and head to the barracks. We are off today and start tomorrow. When we get to our final location, we don't know yet, depends on our team and transportation to there, may be another helo because it's quite a drive but we don't know for sure. Anyway, not sure if I will have a chance to blog for a while, so until next time, take care!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Kuwait today, Iraq sometime soon

We are still in Kuwait, enjoying the weather. Just had 3 days of MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle training. A very rough ride in the back, bounced around like a rag doll at times. Hard on the backside as the seats are not very soft, plus you have an extra 40lbs of gear on and you bounce up and down constantly. We are almost through with training here, and should be in Iraq sometime in the next 2 weeks, can't say for sure as you all hopefully understand. It's nice to have internet access and all, but it doesn't always work so you can't rely on it. Last night I fell asleep waiting for it and missed a chance to chat with my wife. Anyway, I've acclimated to the time change and actually slept through the night for the first time. No 0300 wake up call to pee for once. There are a lot of things here that we'll miss when we head to Iraq, here they have Taco Bell, KFC, Burger King, Panda Express, Starbucks, Nathan's Hot Dogs, and a few others I can't recall. Spoiled you might say, plus we have free laundry service, though not the best it saves us the time having to do it. Lots of souvenir shops and things to buy and send home, not sure if I will be able to get anything as I am now tight on space as it is. Have to send things home I guess. Well that is all for now, hope to update soon but you never know.