Baghdad Stories and Tips


Three Seats Photo, Baghdad, Iraq

The amenities from place to place differ widely depending on your choice of vacation spot. If you desired "palace" accommodations, that is what you got. During our palace visit there was no running water or electricity. The U.S. Army and Airforce had just begun some serious renovations. Our palace stay was pleasant nonetheless. Once we arrived at our semi-permanent lodgings (hoping to go home someday), the amenities were significantly downgraded. Still worth the price considering the cost -- FREE, military ID card required!

The outhouse style porta-potty units were a refreshing enhancement to our earlier sanitary dilemna of burning our own refuse. Thank you camp sanitation and cleaning services! Although the plastic porta-potty inside and seat temperatures easily reach 130 degrees during the day, they're still a welcome change from the seatless, wooden huts of past. If you enjoy having your mid-day sauna WHILE conducting business, these babies are for you! However you look at it, the new stalls are a fabulous addition to our increasing standard of living.

I haven't even mentioned the inside decor! I'll let your imagination run away with you. Our recreation area is a pleaseant place for activity and a little exercise. If armchair quarterbacking is more your style, nightly basketball and volleyball games are always happenning. If you're more of a weightlifting buff, we've got weights and benches. The best time for lifting weights is bewteen 8:30pm and 6:30am (yes, while your normally sleeping). During the day you'll find yourself battling to keep your eyes open from the continual afternoon sandstorms. As the winds calm in late afternoon, you might be able to slip in a short workout. However, you'll be conditioning more than just your physique. You'll also get a grueling but spiritually rewarding mental workout if you're fit enough. Only the strong minded can actually hold onto the scorching hot, metal weight bars. The choice (not many) of the free weight area unfortunately ensures sunlight ALL day long. So if you're in for a toughening up, both mentally AND physically this gym is your best friend. Just think, you can compare this experience to the African culture hot coal walking you watch on the Discovery Channel that you've always wanted to try.

Just when you thought there was no more to talk about. We've got TV! Yes, TV pumped into every outlying tent, building and room. We pull down HBO and The Movie Channel just to name a few. Okay, I 'gotcha! Did you actually believe that? I don't even have those channels at home. And I'm certainly not home enough to watch them. Seriously though, the dishes are for our entertainment. We recently received the proper satellite receiver to downlink American sepaking shows. The two months prior to that, we were all brushing up on our Islamic Pop culture . . . yes, there is apparently such a thing. Probably equivalent to how your parents reacted to Elvis' hip sway, or The Beatles' long hair and suggestive lyrics. We now get several American sports channels, some Sitcoms and something called AFN (closed circuit world-wide Military TV satellite network). In every tent or room? No, sorry, just kidding there. One consolidated location for our enjoyment. You can see someone sitting in the wondow behind the dark colored dish. All in all a nice enhancement!

If you're privileged to hold a Military ID card like we were, you to will be issued a 10kw generator on wheels. You can't get too much more convenient than that. No matter where we were traveling in Iraq we could stop, start that bad-boy up, and get juice to nearly anything we wanted. Need power to your battery powered electric razor but forgot to pack extra batteries? Need lights (not suggested for good combat light discipline) for your travel sized but still power hungry make-up armoire for evening make-up removal? Kids can't brush their teeth without recharging their Elmo handled toothbrush? Power is at your fingertips, everywhere you go. Well, after you learn how to use it that is. Not too many knobs and buttons. Really quite simple. Oops, you'll need fuel for the generator. Okay, that's not so easy. I've only seen one gas station out here and well, they declined to serve us. They said something about our OPEC counsel membership card being cancelled back in January of 1991. Enjoy the plentiful amentities!

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