Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Everyone is burning trash.

We slept in all morning today. It’s kind of weird now because it’s almost 0200 hours and I’m not even tired. We had most of the morning off, so I took advantage of it to catch up on some sleep. It ok, it’s not like we had the day off. We had some missions that we had to do in the afternoon that would run until the late evening. That’s part of the reason I’m up at this hour.

I guess I should say a little something about the Iraqi people since I’m starting to see them more and more. From what I’ve seen so far, most are very friendly and respectful. Most of them do smile and wave and say “Hi!” I’m also amazed at how much English some of them know. They know more English than I know Arabic. “Hello, How are you!”I’ll also say something about the towns. I guess you could say that my first experience outside the gate was a pretty good one. It didn’t look all that bad here to me. I heard stories that there was trash everywhere, houses were little shacks, and the roads sucked. My first experience was on some dirt road in some farmland. Most of the area wasn’t urban and didn’t have dwellings. Well, I’m finally starting to experience more of urban area Baghdad and it’s not that that pretty. We drove through a town today that had trash everywhere. It seems that most people just take their trash to the edge of the street and start burning it. There’s trash burning everywhere. That’s a big reason why the sky is so polluted here. Everyone’s burning the trash.There are dead animals everywhere too, especially in streams. That’s where I tend to find them the most. They’re mainly cows but I’ve seen chickens too. Some of the towns’ and villages look like ghettos. There are all types of different houses. The roads are in terrible condition with potholes everywhere. The street signs all over the highway are either torn or shot up. Some of the houses have bullet holes and the cars are all beat down. This would be a nice place if it weren’t so dirty. I’ve heard that it looks a lot better up north. This place looks more like a third world country. We don’t know how lucky we have it back in the states. I’m glad I’m here to appreciate the luxuries that we have at home. Hopefully when I get home I’ll appreciate it more and won’t forget about it.

Driving through one of the villages, I smiled an elderly lady. She was doing some labor on the street in front of her house. She smiled back at me. The kids were going crazy. They were everywhere. They were so excited because they were hoping that we would throw out treats. They always get big smiles on their faces, happiness in their voices, and waves of their hands in the air. If we want to win the hearts of minds of the people of Iraq I guess the children would be a good place to start. I figure they’ll have good memories of soldiers handing out treats as they pass by. They'll have something to remember for a lifetime, something good to remember about us. I didn’t take enough treats with me. I’m never prepared for these missions. I’m always forgetting something.

I would wave. Say hi. I was discouraged with myself. I didn’t come more prepared. Oh well, there’s always next time. “Hello! Hi!” I would say while waving my hand. They seemed happy to see us. They all had smiles on their faces. There were boys, girls, young and a little old. “Sorry, I don’t have anymore.” They would make gestures with their hands. I find it’s the best way for us to communicate myself. I don’t understand their language and they don’t understand much of my language but we do understand hand, arm, and facial expressions. I’ve found another way to communicate. Sometimes I wonder what some of the gestures that they make mean.

The IP’s are another friendly group. When we pass them they’re always waving as well. Soldiers do it when they pass one another. We give a wave when we’re riding in a vehicle as a friendly gesture to say hello. It’s like we’re all on the same team and in a way, we are. Sure lots of the IP’s have weapons but I have to trust them. Friendship always beings with trust.

Soccer is another story but I’ll blog more about that more tomorrow. It’s 0224 hours and I have to get some sleep even though tomorrow is more of a recovery day. That’s means it’s a day off but we don’t call it that in the Army. We work everyday of the year and twice on Sundays. So this is your tax dollars at work.

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