The other day we received another indicator that we were slated to leave early, but it was just a memo so no real word yet. It also dawned on me that I really hadn't explained what it is like to be here. So here goes. Typical day at Al Rasheed is get up around 9am, eat breakfast, shave, brush teeth. I then walk across the hall to do team work, as the S-1 (Admin) guy I take care of leaves, awards, performance reports and administrative stuff (I send a daily report to higher). At 1200, lunch is ready so I head down to our dining facility (DFAC) for lunch. Today was rice, chicken breast and beans. Our meals are mainly what they call UGR-A, or Unit Group Rations A. It's mostly boil in bag stuff but we also get fresh fruits and lettuce. After lunch, I usually go back to my room and surf internet for a bit or read. On Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays we have a team meeting at 3pm. On those days we lift weights and do cardio afterward, most days we work out at 4pm. After working out, shower, get into uniform and get ready for advising. At 6pm, dinner is served in the DFAC, usually a meat of some sort (steak/chicken/bbq brisket), veggie and rice most days. Occasionally we get crab legs or lobster tails, but without butter they don't taste so good. After dinner, we surf, chat with the family back home (it's 7 hours ahead of eastern time here), or watch TV. About 8pm, we head over to meet our counterparts; mine is a Staff Colonel who is the division's G-1 (admin/personnel). Sometimes I am there for an hour or more, and after that we come back, write up reports or just watch TV or read until time to go to bed. Most nights I am up past midnight. That's a typical day for me here.
Now, what is Iraq like? First thing is the smell. It doesn't stink everywhere, just around here because there is a sewage treatment plant. Second, there are dense neighborhoods everywhere, and the strangest thing is the mud huts that have satellite dishes on them. Third thing is in many respects, this is a beautiful country, palm trees, green fields (at least here in Baghdad). Worst thing about the beauty is it is overshadowed by the fact they think the world is a trash can and the streets are littered. They have cleaned up a bit since we've been here, but it is no where like the USA. Another aspect is the heat, yes it gets hot here and has been over a 100 since early June, but the highest I have seen it was about 120. Now it is starting to cool down, and temps are about 105 for high, in the 80s at night. Soon it will be very moderate and by the time we leave here it will get down in the 30s at night. The worst part about that is there is no heat in our building only AC, so when we got here in January, my room was usually around 60 at night. Hopefully we will be gone before it gets that cold again.
I live in an Iraqi built building, we live in large rooms subdivided into smaller rooms with plywood walls. Most of us have a door for privacy. Some use bed sheets to cover their door. Our bathrooms are mostly eastern style toilets (you have to squat to use them as they are flush to the ground) but the showers are just like home. In the summer, because our water tanks are on the roof, there is no cold water, but the water heaters here are super hot (about 73 degrees Celsius or 163 Fahrenheit) so you have to be careful when turning on the hot water. A couple guys have been burned by it. We have no laundry facilities and weekly we make runs to FOB Falcon to drop off laundry (usually pick up same day). We also pick up food on those weekly runs but recently they started pushing our food to us, though it usually isn't what we want.
All in all, life isn't bad here, except for the they try to kill us part. So far we've been lucky to not get into any trouble, and we hope to continue that trend. Also since the 30 June agreement went into effect, we can't travel during the daytime without Iraqi escorts so we mainly move at night.
Well, I hope this give you a better idea what it is like here. We are due to rotate back about mid December, and hope to be home for Christmas.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Seems there was some controversy stirred up while I was gone. A Colonel we trained with at Ft Riley and traveled with to Iraq wrote a memo blasting the advising effort, saying we've done all we can and we need to pull out by August 2010. Google search for Timothy Reese Iraq and I am sure you will see it if you haven't already. Well, the good news is I am back in Iraq safely. The bad news is I am back in Iraq safely. We have about 4 months left, with outprocessing stuff means we leave Al Rasheed in about 3.5 months. Rumors are flying that we might leave early but they are self generated in some respects. I would love to leave early but it will hit me financially as I haven't sold my house in Hampton yet and we need to get moved by the end of the year. Problems are the housing market sucks right now and the house barely worth what we paid for it, meaning we will take about a $30,000 loss if we sell for anything less than what we paid for it. That's factoring in the $15,000 we've put into the house, realtor fees and closing costs. Yes, it hurts. Anyway, we'll hope for the best and get it sold and move on, don't really have a choice and we don't want to rent unless we absolutely have to. Well, I am going to make a conscious effort to post more regularly as we get ready to leave, but I say that every time and a month later I get to it.