Medicine Soldier

A View from Iraq


2.15.2005

Of Mice and Men

We have taken our first casualty here. Yes. We finally caught our mouse. We caught him on sticky paper and after taking some crap from the guys I managed to relocate the little guy and escorted him to a dumpster. The guys in the other tents suggest we start a critter catching competition.

Speaking of dumpsters our trash is burned. Nothing like the smell of burning plastic to wake up to. On the other hand they detonate captured munitions in the evenings, so we get an acoustic fireworks show in the evenings when they ignite small arms, and when the EODs detonate mortars it is like scenes from "Mary Poppins." In the middle of our conversations the tents shake and things become crooked. We fix them without missing a beat during our conversation.

We are also getting used to the test firing of the patrol's machine guns as they leave the gate for their patrol. Our company has also had the luck of being close to the LZ and whenever air comes it makes it difficult for us huddled around laptops to hear the DVDs we are trying to watch. We are trying to time it right during some war movies to get the real surround sound effect.

I am also still having mixed feelings about the foreign nationals working here. On one hand I do respect different cultures and they always appear polite, but basic hygiene skills are lacking. We have to guard and lock the portajohns near the front gate to prevent finger painting on the walls. Flea collars are no longer allowed to be worn because too many soldiers are getting sick, probably from not washing hands after putting them on or leaving them directly on skin and sweating. I was smart enough to roll my socks over them. Speaking of wildlife, no spiders or snakes yet, just the flies coming out. Our midday highs are getting into the 70s and the camp is beginning to take on a whole new smell.

There is still political tension in town with the elections and there is a holy week that starts on Saturday. I don't think I can convince them to celebrate on my account. In fact the religious rite is called Ashura, and it signifies the beheading of Husayn. The Muslims who participate mutilate themselves in honor. We are trying to figure out our patrol schedule to work around the holiday but maintain a presence.

I have been doing some praying myself. It is hard to find a quiet spot, but I some of the guys appreciate my beliefs and have been acommidating and curious. I have also given a tai-chi demonstration.

I hope you are doing well.

posted by Scott | 11:35 Baghdad time | © 2.15.2005
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