Monday, May 26, 2003
Today we drove down to the small town that is close by, to check on the situation of the local populace. There were many kids out on the streets hoping to see an American drive by, so they could wave, say hello and even try to stand close enough to the road so they can slap our outstretched hand, which really smarts sometimes as we speed by. They are so poor and have been neglected for so long. It is just such a shame that this country's wealth has all gone to the government, to the military and in the pockets of the leaders. So very little has been spent on just basic systems for the people.
The people live mud huts, adobe brick homes, with no amenities. There appears to be no infrastructure, no public systems, no industry of any kind and very few shops or stores. This town doesn't even have its own water supply. The water has to be trucked in from some other area and that is the way it has been even before the war. The streets are lined with mothers and children asking for the bottles of water we carry around in our vehicles.
There is so much good that could be done for these people, just to help them get there city back up and running, which was not really running even before the war. It is that old saying that we could give them a fish or we could teach them how to fish. They probably need certain skills and know-how, that we might be able to provide them. They could even learn how to be a little more enterprising, start up some businesses and learn some business management. We as a group collectively have so many skills that we could share with them.
We could do so much to win these people over by just caring enough to share, to teach and to make their life better. We could start by just helping them get a way to develop a water source for the town.
We have had some really bad wind/sand storms here for the last couple of days, which impacts every part of our life. Yesterday as we were driving back from the cages we had to stop several times in that we couldn't see anything in front of us but sand, we had some brown outs as we call them. I couldn't even see who was in the vehicle.
We have continued to work with the high-ranking Iraqi officers to see what information we might extract before we release them. We have also been trying to make their life a little more bearable, by taking some apples and oranges out to them. They have been asking for such things as fingernail clippers, lotion, a radio (so they can listen to the news), etc.
Yesterday we had an army historian, or so he was called, from the Whitehouse come out to our location to talk with the Iraqi offices and us. Actually he wanted to ask them a few questions and get their opinions on knowing what they now know, how would they have done things differently or what might they do in the future to counteract such a force like American was able to put together. He spoke with 4 of the highest-ranking offices for almost an hour. It was an extremely interesting discussion.
Today we have another army historian who is actually putting the story together for what has gone on here at this camp. We are going to have a little get together/social hour this evening to pass the mic around to tell each of our stories. I don't really need to say much, just give him my web site URL if he is interested. I am glad that I have taken the time to put into words my journey through Iraq during Operation Iraq Freedom.
A part of the crew here at this location departed today to go back to Camp Udairi, to prepare to go home. I am sure that they will be there for a while just waiting to go home, which will probably take them a month or so. This group was the first group to get here back in November and they were also in Afghanistan before that, so they do deserve to be the first ones to go. They are regular army anyway so they are a little different from us in that regard.
We did find a shop that is down near Kuwait city that sells black market DVD's of stuff that are not even out yet in the USA, so I picked up the new Matrix, the new Xmen 2, and a few others. So we are not missing a beat out here in the dessert. We have to at least watch movies once in a while to break up the day to day grind. It is nice to be able to have a few diversions doing things that helps us get closer together, you know that male-bonding thing again.
Most of the time we spend just disagreeing with the way the regular army does stuff or we make fun of what they are doing that just doesn't seem to make any sense. There are a lot of stupid things done that could be done differently. We try to make light of most things and poke fun at everything just to keep it light and not too real, you know me. Just trying to keep moral high, not too depressed.
Our mess hall is not too bad either now. I started asking for some bran flakes every morning, so now as soon as I poke my head in the door, the mess sergeant runs to the back and brings me out a fresh box of bran flakes along with some bananas on the days he has them. At least we have a mess, which is still better than many. .
The prisoners have been complaining of snakes and spiders all over their camp. Boy, what a bunch of cry babies. They just never stop complaining, what will they want next. (Just kidding). They are always walking around in slippers and thongs, so their feet get dried out and crack, so they were asking for some socks and gym shoes that they could wear.
Well it is getting too hot and my back is soaking wet and there are sweat stains on my chair from sitting here.
Have a great day.
posted by Chief Wiggles 11:16 AM
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Saturday, May 24, 2003
The weeks just slip by, one right after another, but I am usually unaware of even what day it is. One day is not much different than another; we just do our job day in and day out, hoping that we are making a difference in some way.
It is almost dusk now, I am sitting in my chair in my room of the bombed out radio station, got my candle burning that was sent me, so I can smell the fragrance of cookies and spice over the normal order of the prison camp. Fly strips hang around the room, in an attempt to put a dent in the fly population. A bird has made a nest in some of the broken bricks in our room and for the first time I can hear the sound of the chicks that must have hatched through the night. I usually can see a few lizards dash across the floor, hoping to get lucky and snatch a low flying fly. I have a small fan blowing the hot air around the room, which at least cools the sweat that has stained my shirt. I am sitting here in my brown t-shirt that looks like a tie-dyed shirt; only it is the salt stains of a day of sweating. The wind has finally died down outside, which might at least make it possible to sleep tonight, with getting all wrapped up.
I have been having a feeling that I was missing one thing out here, but I just couldn't put my finger on what it was. Then one day it hit me, music is what is missing and could make a big difference in our quality of life here. I went out and bought a small boom box, and we have been playing it ever since. I even take it to the shower point, so that we can sing along to the tunes while we shower. Being able to hear tunes playing out loud is very different from just hearing it through a set of headphones on a small CD player. We crank it up loud and sing at the top of our voices. It has a major affect on everyone that hears it, not just a bad affect either. Music has a certain soothing affect to all that are listening. We even take it up on the roof so we can listen to it before we go to bed.
posted by Chief Wiggles 11:16 AM
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