As I walked to the "chow hall" today, I remarked to a friend how much the winds had been picking up lately. He's been here almost a full year. He told me that the winds usually pick up around this time every year...and pretty much blow constantly through the spring. Then, of course, as the 120 degree heat invades during summer; the winds stop. Well, that's a damn happy thought. You would think the winds would be welcome...they are not. Imagine if you will dumping about 20 bags of all-purpose flour on your kitchen floor. Then take an everyday electric fan; placing it at one end of the room and turning it on "high". Yep, that's what it's like. The sand over here is not like the sand most of you have experienced at the beach. It is very fine; almost like talcum powder. So what you get when you combine the wind and the very fine sand....is a painful existence. This is about the time of the year all the sand storms begin...so another interesting experience that I'm sure to write about soon.
With the blowing sand, I noticed how much the landscape reminds me of pictures I'd seen from the moon landings. Generally flat...with some small hills and barren for the most part. You see a few trees here and there...but they look like they are hanging on for dear life. Apparently south of where I'm located, the landscape is lush and palm groves abound. That area lies between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The rivers have split near Baghdad and primarily we have small tributaries of those rivers. I think I would like to see the area to the south...it may change my attitude about this country. Also, in the north the landscape is mountainous and beautiful. That's what was explained to me by one of the Iraqi interpreters here. He was an interesting fellow...an ethnic Kurd who had lived here until around 1995. He then left with some of his family and moved to the United States. Then about 4 years ago he came back to Iraq to work with the U.S. military. He expressed how much he loved his homeland and believed in what the U.S. is doing. He stated, "that he wanted to come back here and help." And so he's been here 4 years now. With that being said he was very adamant about some day leaving and going back to the United States. Apparently he loves our country...so do I...if he leaves here before I do, maybe he'll pack me into one of his bags.
I posted a picture that gives you an idea of the landscape I see everyday. The picture was taken from in front of where I live.
R, K and G...I love and miss you. Please send my spacesuit and a lunar rover.