Tuesday, May 02, 2006
This site (not) under construction
We had a few meetings and did some administrative stuff today, and in between those I set out on foot to explore the base. I got a lot better feel for directions hoofing it myself via main roads and remembering landmarks than I did following our "tour guide" around through various shortcuts yesterday. It's surprising how big the camp is. I had read some criticisms of our presence here along the lines of building "permanent bases" and with a description of all the amenities (exchange, fast food, etc.) one would think it resembled a small town back in the states. But it's quite the opposite. At first glance it would look as if everything were under construction. Concrete barriers everywhere, the occasional heavy equipment. But everywhere you go, all the buildings are temporary. We're living in temporary tents. Even the "permanent" lodgings here are just trailers that can be picked up and moved somewhere else if/when needed. The only permanent buildings are the ones we took over from Saddam's palace and surrounding grounds. Of course, those are pretty nice buildings. The Al Faw palace, which we had a meeting in today, has a sign indicating it was built after the 1991 gulf war, during the period of sanctions. Obviously the money for the "oil for food" program wasn't exactly going to the food... For being in the "desert" there is a lot more water around here than I would have expected. I guess we're near the Tigris river, and there are lakes and ponds (and large mud puddles) throughout the camp. The bug that just landed on my screen reminded me to tell you that mosquitoes are a minor nuisance (obligatory pause to scratch a bite). Long work days start tomorrow, although I have officially lost track of which day of the week it is now. Tuesday, I think? I guess it doesn't really matter. Anyway, I better get rested up!