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.