Thursday, February 12, 2009

Talking the Walk

Greetings from Camp Taji, Iraq. After a blogging hiatus of 3 months, I'm at it again - no longer under the jurisdiction which forbid my efforts previously. Below is an entry from early November 2008, with pictures. Don't try and mail me stuff. I don't have my new address yet.

(Written November 1st, 2008)

I'm on the ground in Sadr City, and what can I say - it's not pretty. I literally had to pick my way across a street flowing with shit several inches deep, all the time surrounded by happy Iraqis going about their bustling lives, apparently immune to the smell that made my stomach protest like a Klan member during Obama's Inauguration.

But seriously, conditions here have improved drastically for everyone in the last 7 months. Nary a sniper shot nor an artillery round has been heard at the US Army base recently, and reconstruction efforts are visible everywhere around town. Outside of The Wall, that is.

Have you heard about The Wall? It's big news here. I'll explain it in another post.

For now, PLEASE SEND ME STUFF! I finally have a working mailing address, and I need stuff. There is no PX here, no 7-11, no WalMart, and very few supplies for the soldiers. Even though we are in a big city, we live as if we were the last outpost south of Timbuktu. No running water, cold showers a couple times a week, porta-johns, flooded muddy grounds, and a tiny chow hall (but kudos to the Army cooks who still manage 3 hot meals a day).

[address ommitted as it is no longer relevant -ed.]

I need:

- Windex in a small bottle
- Antibacterial wipes in a small pocket-sized pack
- Cigars (for bribing the staff officers more than for personal usage)
- Facial scrub
- Plax
- Oral-B floss
- Candy: starburst, Jujyfruits, Mike & Ikes, Dots, Reese's PB Cups
- Beef jerky

The cool thing about my job is that I am one of the few Americans who get to go out on the streets of Iraq and talk to average people. It definitely takes patience and the gift of gab, not to mention the ability to finesse an Arabic interpreter and find rapport with a bizarre cross-section of society. I'm not claiming to possess these skills. The pictures show me and Joy, my interpreter, engaging locals in the Jamilla neighborhood recently.

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