Monday, November 22, 2004

First Few Days in Baghdad

There are three separate posts for today so you should probably start with the one called "How I Got to Kuwait" and work your way back up to this one.

The first few days have been pretty cool so far. Both in content and temperature. I haven't really been in extreme danger so far and I'm sort of having fun. I finally feel like I can settle in and get this thing started. It's just like camping in the desert with a weapon.

When we first got here they gave us a few briefs on rules and conduct and things like that. It just so happened that they dropped us all of at the unit I was going to. When we were jumping off of the trucks I heard someone calling my name. When I got to that person it was the commander of my unit. He said they'd been waiting for me for a while and they were glad I finally made it. That was pretty reassuring to know there had actually been a plan from the start. In the back of my mind I was afraid I'd show up and they'd be surprised I was there. After that we were assigned to our rooms.

I was surprised to find that we were living in trailers. This is about the best senario you can ask for. We live in these trailers sort of like a small mobile home. They're divided into three rooms that each have an outside door along the side of the trailer. Each room sleeps two people. There are two beds and two lockers and an air conditioner in each room. The room is about the size of an average bedroom in a house back home. They have electricity but it's 220 and they use British plugs. I am very comfortable in my room. They have a bizarre next to the PX where local merchants sell anything from jewelry to computer parts. I bought a little voltage converter for $15.00. The bizarre is kind of neat because it's just like what you'd think a third world market would be like. It's dirty with so many different smells. It's busy and many different languages are flying around all over the place. One booth could be selling knives and kids clothing all in a 10 foot square. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the arrangement of merchandise. I think they just sell whatever they can get their hands on.

The chow hall is awesome. It's run by a civilian contractor and it's great. They have every kind of food you could imagine. It's organized with your usual main line where you get your meal, but then there are all these little bars around to get whatever you want. There's potato bars, ice cream bars, sandwich bars, pizza bars, salad bars. The food is very good and the place is very clean. I'm really surprised at the quality of food. A million times better than at Fort Hood.

We had a class yesterday on cultural awareness. They had local Iraqis come in and give the class. It was really interesting to learn about their culture and customs. I really feel like the Iraqi people support what's going on here. Well, at least the ones our government is paying to come in and give us the classes. I was a little embarrassed at the amount of knowledge they had about my country, language, and culture. I don't know anything about theirs. Americans really live in this little bubble of our own.

I did a little work on my weapon at the range today and it shot a lot better. We got to watch some of the snipers qualify with their 50 cal sniper rifles. When one of those goes off you're glad you're on the sending end and not the receiving end. The sound alone can probably kill small woodland creatures. My M-16 puts a hole the size the end of a pencil in the target. Those rifles put a hole the size of my fist in the target. If I don't get another weapon I feel pretty comfortable with this one. No matter where you go you have to carry your weapon with live ammunition. Even to the showers.

Well, now that I'm caught up I'll try to organize my thoughts a little better from now on. I've got an address here now you can get from my wife or my parents. If you hurry it's not to late for Christmas. Not that I'm fishing for packages or letters or anything. In fact e-mail would be fine. I might need to clear up some information I wasn't clear on. In an earlier post I said my address was no longer good because I was leaving Fort Hood. I meant my mailing address. My e-mail address will be the same forever. I've had some questions on that and thought I should clear it up. By the way, the person who told me he wasn't e-mailing me because of that little misunderstanding still hasn't e-mailed me. You know who you are. Speaking of that person, for all you left handers out there the Iraqi people think it's impolite to eat with your left hand, when we asked why they said that only the devil eats with his left hand.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is quite an adventure for you and us too. I remember my grandparents telling about getting letters from a relative during WWI. He'd write and postulate what they'd be doing on the farm; plowing, planting, etc. But his letters took months to get to them. Today we hear from you immediately. I emailed you at 5:45 AM and when you called at 8:00 AM you said you had read my email. I wonder how many minutes it takes to get to you. Keep us posted. Do you have a room mate? When do you "go to work" doing what you are trained to do? Who do you answer directly too? Who is in your unit, personality types, etc? How much work time and free time will you have? We keep you and the Iraq situation in our prayers daily. KM in Indiana

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Santa is on his way.
I repeat, Santa is on his way.
Hope he finds you in time since you have finally stopped
moving around.

3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHA-HOO!! You made it safe and sound (not to mention stinky, I bet). Gotta love the long waits and the long flights. Ah! Military life. Should have shown you Pa's home movies from when he was stationed in Egypt. Definatly a culture change. Not sure if Iraq is similar but I can't help but think it is. I remember seeing these walking bundles of straw. I then realized it was a camel with a stack so large all you saw was the head and legs only. Rules of the road are completely different as well. No real rules apparently. Just turn when you want and drive on whatever side you feel is the best. Anyway, this is about your adventure. We prayed as a congragation for you since we found out you reached your destination. Sure is good to see the body caring for another of its members. Will make your address available next service. Be sure to mention your needs and the needs of others you meet. Would like to keep the blessings moving. Yea! No more blah, blah with gravy, bbq blah. How is your PX/BX? Do you need magazines, books, snacks, powdered drinks, soap, soup, etc? Do you have Sunday services available? Will you be leading them? Bet you could. Hee Hee I remember a few Blogs back. Strange to say, I am excited you are where you are. Suppose it's because of all the waiting. Feels like things are finally moving from the unknown transition stage to one that will become more like a routine. God is with you no matter where you are. I am SO thankful for that. God is good, here and abroad. CnH

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was so glad to get to read about your latest adventures. What an interesting blog! I've been really curious what you've been up to. To echo someone else's question to you, when will you begin "work" and what will you be doing? Don't tell me if you'll have to kill me later for it! All seems to be about the same at home for now. Just getting prepared for the holidays and going through the daily motions of going here, going there, etc. Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your buddies there! Eat some good "bar" food. We'll be sure to get your address from your cute lil' lady here. Expect to hear from us! M. Pads Coach

12:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe your actually there now, will you be able to post any pictures of what your surroundings look like? I'm glad to hear your living quarters won't be so bad for now and hopefully for your entire mission. Your wife and I hung out the other night and had lots of fun, shopping, eating and doing a lot of girl talk, I look forward to treating her out many more times while you are away. Praying for you ALWAYS, SCM

2:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving; and we'll do our best at eating your share at the R Dinner tomorrow. HA! It'll be nice to see your folks. Wondering if you'll get the Thanksgiving Card before Christmas. I'm assuming snail mail is slow. Hope you have some Turkey and Pumpkin Pie tomorrow!
Love & Prayers, Cousins P & M

7:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's so cool to be able to read your thoughts and share in a little of your experience. It just makes the stuff that's happening half-way around the globe so much more real than "the news"...I'd rather read the blog anyway!

Obviously GOD is going to teach you things on this journey...but what may not be so obvious is what I think He's teaching us back here...something about sacrifice. Yeah I know how that must sound coming from this end of the line - but it's true - even outside your immediate family it's a sacrifice to "give up" one of your own for a time.

Praying for you often...RTN

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me know if you see any Green 1972 Chevy pickups driving around out there... I here there is one on the loose with two troublemakers riding around... One police officer said something about a finger?... Glad to see you're doing well my friend...Sounds like they're trying to fatten you guys up w/ the luxury buffets over there... You deserve it... oh, and grab some spoons to keep those rudimental chops up, the war thing isn't an excuse for not practicing! :)

Hmmmmm... one guess....

Take care man..... J

1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's up with lefty-bashing? We're not all bad. Good thing I don't eat in Iraq, though. Hey just wanted to say I'm still reading and it's really great that you can tell us the day to day stuff. I enjoy it. Glad things are going alright so far. Mel

8:46 PM  

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