Medicine Soldier

A View from Iraq


Daily Life

We are staying in a quad of ten-man tents. There are four rows of ten tents. In between each tent is either a concrete barrier wall or a concrete mortar bunker. The ground outside the tents is loose gravel. I have given up drinking anything after dinner because the porta johns are at least 50 yards from the tent. One is a straight dash down the gravel road; the gravel that will roll your ankle if you get ahead of yourself. The closer porta john is through the maze of concrete barriers, not fun if you take a wrong turn and it is chilly out. There are also no lights in the portajohns.

I wake up in the morning between 5 and 6am and work out. It is barely light enough out to see in the mornings. After my work out, I receive the morning reports from the platoon leaders and take a shower. The water here is recycled. They basically filter the grey water and put it back in the tanks. So we brush our teeth with Listerine or bottled water. After that I eat breakfast and spend the morning evaluating the platoon training, coordinate supplies and equipment, and run errands around the camp. In the evening it gets pitch black and we do some night training and attend the brigade and battalion briefings.

We have many foreign nationals working at our camp. They sell odds and ends, do our laundry, work the dining hall, and clean the portajohns and shower trailers. Some of the Muslims still practice the old ways, like the left hand is better than toilet paper, "men are for pleasure, women are for making babies." Things like that. They have special badges and are always supervised by a US soldier or contractor. I understand the concept; we are trying to play nice together.

As far as other little things that make this different from home. We carry our weapons everywhere and have to re-clear them before entering the chow hall, then we wash our hands. We also use the alcohol hand sanitizer after using the portajohns. The problem with washing and sanitizing is the dust. I still always feel like my hands are dirty or dry. We also don't go anywhere without our sunglasses mostly for the dust, hey not only are they ballistic sunglasses but they look cool.

Lip balm is another challenge with the dust. My lips are either dry and chapped or the lip balm catches the dust and I taste dirt all day. We also have a mouse in our tent and we are trying to catch it before we attract snakes.

On our ride in, we saw fruit stands along the road. Tomatoes everywhere. I wonder how supply and demand works with stands every 25 feet and nothing but tomatoes. They look good nice bright red big tomatoes. Then we remembered. They really don't have plumbing here, so the "tomato fields" are fertilized by raw sewage.

Oh, the weather here is not what everyone expects. It has been 40 degrees and it rains.

The camp is in the state of turn over. There are Marines leaving and the Army is taking over. Things in the nearby town are unstable. The Chief of Police was fired and they have not replaced him; the governor assumed he would not win the elections and he decided to leave town. They have also postponed the election results after some tampering by the Sunnis. Things will be tense around here for awhile and I am sure you know North Korea and Iran are acting up. It is hard to believe I have been gone for about three months already.

posted by Scott | 08:25 Baghdad time | © 2.11.2005
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