Monday, May 01, 2006

Living the Good Life in Iraq

Goodbye Kuwait, Hello Iraq. It was a long day, although not in the way I expected. We were able to get up at the gentlemanly hour of 6 a.m. for our flight up to Baghdad. Although the flight itself only took an hour, the preparations included loading all our bags (about 400 of them) onto a truck, then unloading them from the truck to pallets at the airport, then riding a C-17 to Baghdad, then repeating the truck loading and unloading evolution to get to our tents. We worked together as a team (fire-bucket-brigade style) and got the work done relatively quickly, but it was still tiring work in the hot sun. One of the members of our group who has been here a while gave us a quick tour of "Camp Victory", our temporary home for the next several days while we do yet more training before heading off to our final destinations. One of the stops was the Al Faw palace (pictured to the right), formerly one of Saddam Hussein's many palaces, but now the headquarters of several coalition staffs. It's a marvelous work of art. There is a massive chandelier in the main ballroom portion, which covers three stories. There are great views of the city from various covered patios... all in all a nice place to live. One of the items in the ballroom was a "throne" that I'm told Saddam used to sit in. It's the classic photo-op spot so I joined in the line of people posing as a mean dictator.

On to the messing and lodging arrangements. The food just keeps getting better and better. I thought it was good in Kuwait. It's awesome here. Imagine every buffet line you've ever eaten at at a restaurant. Now put them all in one building. There are numerous choices for main courses, including a carving station, a stir-fry where you can pick your ingredients and hand them to the chef, pasta, pizza, tacos, burgers, and any manner of food you want. I can't imagine chow getting much better than this.

In contrast, the lodging arrangements are continuing their downhill trend compared to the beginning of the training. While not quite as bad as our desert training (we have a bit more room, and cots) I'm still sharing a tent with 30 people. Fortunately it's a temporary thing, and I hope when I get to my final destination I'll be in more comfortable surroundings.

I expect the next several days to be busy as I actually get to work on the stuff I came here for. And busy is good. I don't think I want to be bored here. Other than the great food, there's not much to do.


Di Nietz said...

HAHAH! I'm late reading and commenting, as I was a bit distracted for a few days, but that picture of you is priceless, Dan.

I have a friend who was in Iraq earlier and there's a picture of him in the palace there that I have to find and send you. Perhaps you can identify the spot that he was at .

Anonymous said...

*laughs* Now, if there was a geocache hidden in the palace... That's a great picture, Dan! Post more!