Posted by Michelle on Jul 23, 2003 in Michelle
Latest from Robert in Iraq:
One of Stacy’s friends [Stacy is Rob's wife] sent me a bunch of questions about the place. I thought you might find the answers interesting.
How do you spend your off time? Do you have games or go to camel races
or something? And what do you eat over there? Just curious. Are their
bathrooms/toilets etc. the same as here or are they a big whole in a
sand dune? And do you get to go to movies? Cable TV? What about money – do
you have to convert your American money to their stuff? Are you a coffee
drinker – I am – and no matter how hot it is – I will drink coffee – no joke
- do you do the same? Air-conditioning? Trees? What are the sunsets
like? (my favorite time of day) Sunrises? Do the women still cover themselves?
Are the people of Iraq nice to their animals – like their dogs? I hope so
because it would break my heart if they are not better not tell me if
they are not so nice. Sandstorms? Where do you take cover? Has it rained?
Take your time in answering –
Most of the time, you spend working. I work, now that I am the Command
Judge Advocate, on average of 12-13 hours a day. This is actually very
nice, makes the time go by fast. At night, I sit on the porch, smoke a
cigar, and listen to some music. People come out and we talk. I like
talking to people who talk politics, their lives at home, sports,
anything but about going home. I hate the ‘I wonder when we are going
home.’ We’ve got no clue, so it just ruins the day to talk about it.
We just got a mess hall. It opened three days ago and it is like
heaven. They had some kind of hamburger steak last night and white
rice. Ask Stacy if she thinks I liked that. It was like heaven. For
the 3 1/2 months before that, we had UGR, T-Rats, and MREs. MREs are
‘Meals Ready to Eat’ and it is the lowest form of food you can eat. A
UGR is a big, heated up MRE that the MKT (Mobile Kitchen Tent) served.
T-Rat are a little better than UGR, but not much. There are A-Rats and
B-Rats, but we never saw them. The DFAC (Dining Facility) is like
For bathrooms, we had burnout field latrines. That is exactly what it
sounds like. Enlisted soldiers had to burn waste everyday and the whole
camp smelled like diesel and shit. We had those for about 3 months.
For the last month, we have had port-a-johns. They are better, but to
hot to use during the day. You either use them early in the morning or
late at night. If you use it during the day, you will sweat to death.
Like Cool Hand Luke in the sweatbox. For males, there are pipes for
urinating. Long pipes that stick out and buried deep into the ground.
They have to be closed every so often when the ground is saturated.
There are movies in the MWR (Morale, Welfare, and recreation) tent, but
I don’t go to then much. It is a big 36″ TV with a DVD player. There
is a satellite we have just gotten up and they have a TV in the battle
call. Only one channel, Armed Forces TV. Back home I watched TV all
the time. I have not sat down and watch a program since I have gotten
We don’t convert money here. The Iraqis want the American Dollar in
trade. Most trade are for souvenirs. The money is hard to come by, but
some people have better connections than others.
I do drink coffee, but it dehydrates you. I have to be careful with it
out here. On a hot day, it will put you down quick. Among the Iraqis,
tea is a big tradition, and if you have ever been offered the change to
go to tea, it is a real insult not to go. We were at the Ziggurat of Ur
the other day and the Curator asked us to go to his house for tea. We
went and it was pretty cool. The first thing you do is get a single
glass of water and share it among the group. Pass it around to show
friendship. He then brought out the tea set and served hot tea in
glasses about the size of a shot glass. He put two little spoons of
sugar in it and we drank it. It was so hot it burned my tongue but it
was very good. He is a nice guy and speaks good English.
In the Middle East, you never use your left hand for most social
interaction. Shaking hands, waving, touching. You also do not give the
OK sign or a thumbs up. They are obscene. Men also hold hand when
walking around. That threw me the first time I saw that.
Few trees here. The whole south is desert. Saadam damned the place up
in 91′ when the Shiites revolted. It is a real wasteland where I am.
Lots of trees and grass up north. But also a lot of bad guys. It is a
We have just gotten a/c. We hope to have them hooked up soon.
The sunsets are beautiful. I have attached a picture from about two
months ago of tent row (where I live) at sunset.
Some women cover themselves, maybe 50 percent. The country is very
secular. Not like what you hear.
I have not seen much with Iraqis and animals. They keep pets, so I
guess care for them.
The sandstorms have abated for the last few days. Use to get them
almost every day. It is OK during the day. It is the ones at night
which are hell. We, thank God, have not had one at night in about 3
months. You really do think the world is falling down around you then.
And you will not sleep that night.
It rain a little in April. It has since then at all. They say it will
rain again in the winter.