Hi Guys! Just a short note to show I'm still alive and kicking.
The holidays are over, thank goodness! Santa has been deflated and is now sitting in a sad little bundle at the side of the tent. Our Christmas decorations are down, and the taller members of our hospital no longer live in fear of banging their heads on candy canes. The weather continues cold and moist and the heaters in my part of the hospital are still not working well; so here I sit with an army green wool blanket over my shoulders. I guess I should be thankful for the cold - such a contrast over the heat of August where I would have sold at least three members of my immediate family - and my cats - to get just a hint of this temperature. BUT, I find myself selfishly wanting the perfect temperature. Or at least a heater that works to Army specifications. Uhhhhhhhhh, let's make that Air Force specifications - THEY get pampered.
Anyway. I finally got outside the berm here, something I haven't done since I landed here in August. I KNEW there had to be a world out there! So when a group of us were invited to lunch and a tour of a local hospital (well, kind of local - it was about 100 miles away), I jumped at the chance. The incidents of little things that could ruin your day (like IEDs and small arms fire) have drastically decreased, so I felt this was a good time to go. After the routine convoy brief - full flak vest WITH ceramic plates, helmet, weapons locked and loaded, seatbelt and don't stop for anything kind of warnings, off we went.
What a contrast! Did you know there is actually something ELSE in this country besides dust/mud and army vehicles? There actually are growing things! Gardens and trees and dates, and people and fields. On the road people drive BMWs next to the donkey carts; and both beside the longhaired sheep being driven out to pasture. (Did you know the sheep would walk beside the road and not on it? I don't know if this is a learned behavior or unnatural selection...ok, you know, that's when all the sheep which walk ON the road get run over, so they don't breed and soon you have a flock of sheep that only walk beside the road???) We crossed over the Tigris river on Army Floating Bridging Assists - first time I've seen them in use - and the Tigris is WIDE... Cool!
AND I was on the Tigris! Wow
Kids would run down to the road and wave at us, give us the thumbs up signs. The men mostly just stare as we flew by. A lot of the houses are made of adobe (mud brick) and tend to melt a bit in the winter rains. Every house has a walled courtyard, and chickens, ducks, geese and I'm sure I saw the Colonel's turkey in one!
The lunch was wonderful. The first NON-mass produced food I've had since coming here. It actually had spices! Saffron, and pomegranate, and roasted stuffed chicken and stuffed grape leaves, - and and and, REAL coffee - sigh yum drool - Man did I wish for a doggy bag. I ate a LOT.
They put up a Christmas tree just for us, to make us feel at home. The Hospital was adequate for what it did - though one of the Cardiac surgeons with our group was surprised at the defibulator there - the model was one he trained on as resident many years ago. Hey - if it works... Found out they had a separate women's hospital which I would have loved to tour, but we had to leave early enough to be home by dark.
The ride there and back was fortunately uneventful, and I even managed to clear my weapon without shooting anything - what a relief.
I got back by 5 pm, which gave me about 2 hours of sleep before having to go to work that night. I was sleepy - but it was worth seeing a different world were people don't wear DCUs
Of course DCUs aren't all that bad - I mean I never have to worry about deciding what to wear, or whats in style, and my entire wardrobe is color coordinated, WITH matching footwear, hats and gloves...how many women can say that?
Take care, all!