Friday, August 07, 2009

August in Iraq

I have not made a new posting in almost a month. I do make regular postings on twitter.com Feel free, to sign up on twitter, and follow me.

I finished my first road trip, and returned back to my home camp. There is a great deal of work here, and I will be very busy here. The firm hired a new man, and I have been giving him some orientation. He is heading to a base up-country.

July and August in Iraq, is the most miserable time of the year here. I first arrived in Iraq, August 15, 2005. I was in a concrete barracks, with air conditioning, so I did not mind it so bad. I really liked Al-Asad. I spent 16 months there, and I was "living large". I wish I could have stayed there.

Anyway, I am now here at Camp Liberty. I live in a "containerized housing unit". It is decent, good air conditioning, and I have my own shower and sanitary facilities. I do not have to walk 200 yards down a gravel path, to take the shower. The Army pretty much leaves us alone, but we have been notified, that "health and welfare" inspections will be starting soon. This means that the Army will be going through our living quarters, looking for contraband. Mostly they are looking for alcohol, drugs, pornography. An American was caught with empty beer bottles in his trailer, and the Army wanted to expel him. His company convinced the Army to let him stay.

Work here is seven days a week. 8am to 6pm seven days a week. Even if there is no work, we have to be in the office. I must say that I am impressed by the food here at Camp Liberty. They serve an excellent breakfast. Because of health concerns, you can only get hard-boiled eggs, and scrambled eggs. Omelettes are made with powdered eggs.

There is a whole family of fast-food here. There is Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza hut, Subway, Cinnabon, Popeye's chicken, etc. Sometimes, I will pass on chow hall food, and get fast food.

I have been told that the US Dollar is to be phased out here, in October. This is strange to hear. I almost never use paper money here. I use my credit card at the PX. I have an "Eagle Cash Card", issued by the Army. It is a debit card, that I take to the finance office, and "load" funds from my USA Bank Account. Then I use the card at the barber shop, or fast food place, and the dollar amount is taken off the card. In five and half years in Iraq/Afghanistan, I have spent less than $300 in cash.

I started with this firm on May 4. On August 4, I had ninety days with the firm. Thirty days of that was in the USA. I spent two weeks in Florida, doing in-processing, getting my security clearance transferred, and setting up my direct deposit. I also had a medical exam. Then I spent a week in Fort Benning Georgia, going to classes in First Aid, and how to spot a roadside bomb. I also got some shots. I was all set to fly out, but I needed one more medical exam. I had to spend an extra week at Benning. I finally arrived in Iraq on 2 June.

I sure do not have much of a life outside of work. At 6pm, I walk across the street to the Recreation center. I watch Jeapordy at 6:30pm. If there is a decent show on TV, I will stick around, and watch "Law and Order". Last night there was a movie "Inkheart". By 800pm, I am usually worn out, so I walk back to the trailer, and take a shower, and climb into bed. I have a couple of books that I am reading, but I can usually get through only a few pages, before I am collapsing.

The generators here run 24/7, so there is no quiet in my trailer. By dawn, there are often helicopters flying over, so they wake me up. I get up by 7am, and walk to the office. I usually sweep the place out, and on Sunday, I mop the floor. I wish we could get some Filipinos, or other people to handle the janitorial work.

I do not like Iraq, but I like working in Iraq. This is my third contract in Iraq. I first did data collection. Then I came back, and worked a project where I supervised Iraqis, installing radio sets in Iraqi army vehicles. Then I came back on this satellite project.

I would like to stay for the entire year, but I may not. I would rather be working here, than unemployed in the USA. I would like to finish here, and return to the USA in 2010. By then, the economy should have picked up, and I will be able to find a position in Washington DC metro area.

1 comment:

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