Observations of Iraq

Though I don’t get to go outside the wire, I figured some people would be interested about my observations of Camp Victory and Iraq in general.

For one thing, you know you’ve acclimated when 109 degrees feels moderately comfortable and 85 degrees is decidely mild. The other day, while walking to work at 4:45 in the morning, the temp was 77.5 degrees; we thought it was a little on the chilly side. Life is really going to suck when I get back to San Diego.

Though dust is a way of life here, it’s really not that bad most of the time. Much of the blowing dust comes from the deserts of Syria and western Iraq. The dust is very fine, much like talcum powder. When a good dust storm kicks up, it’s more like fog than real sand. Definitely better than being sandblasted in Kuwait.

There are a lot of cars here, both on base and in Iraq. It seems like everyone owns one; with 12000+ people on base, it seems a little ridiculous at times. Because the Army ripped out all the date palm groves and grassland surrounding the Palace, it’s mostly just gravel and dirt. Due to water rationing, they can’t water down the dirt to keep the dust down so even when there is no wind, there is a constant haze of dust in the air from all the vehicles.

The base doesn’t have any central facilities like power and water. Water trucks drive around all day filling up potable water tanks. Septic trucks take care of the port-a-potties and septic tanks. Huge diesel generators are running 24/7 to supply power to all the buildings on base. Very few buildings have restrooms inside; the ones that do are waging a constant war to keep the toilets working. These facilities weren’t designed for several hundred people constantly using them throughout the day.

Surprisingly (or not), there isn’t much to do here. Some people spend 2-3 hours a day at the gym because they get so bored. There are some community centers and like but they are scattered pretty far apart so many people don’t bother using them. Plus you have to compete w/ the 12000 people who are living at the base anyways.

That’s about it for now. Thanks for reading. Feel free to ask me questions in the comments.

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