Addendum: same ROE as before: Red text denotes current thoughts & notes.
As I was preparing Part III of this series, I found a paper copy of the letter. Part III wasn't in the paper copy, but only on the electronic word document that I had originally found. This post was at the end of the paper copy, but since it was not germane to the Recovery Mission, I decided to save it for later. Now is later.
Also, I should state that it wasn't long after the "mission" that we received the newer vests with plates...
Architecture and Food - Two of My Favorite Things
At least the trip allowed me to see many residential areas of Baghdad. They build their homes in a much different fashion than ours in the States. As wood is at a premium, they build with block. The lots are smaller than a typical American lot, and are square, or close to it. They do not have large lawns, but use the lot entirely for the building. Usually the back and two sides are built as plain walls, stucco over the block. The front facade is where the exterior design elements are, and where the money is spent. Usually, there is a 6-8 foot wall around the front, with the space behind it carved out to create a courtyard, balconies and various other design elements. The front facades are very unique from home to home. Some facades incorporate marble columns with ornate capitals. Even the window designs are unique and vary in the shapes they create, unlike ours which are ordered directly from the double-hung catalog. With the many variations in design, both in elements used and space created, the homes are distinct and differ in character, despite the fact that most are similar color and materials used.
I am sure it won't be long before there is a McDonald's on every corner here also. After all, there has been a Burger Kind on BIAP for over a month already. If you want a Whopper, sometimes it can be up to a three-hour wait. I have been able to try some of the Iraqi cuisine a few times. Most everything I have had has been pretty good. I even had some Iraqi pizza, which is different than American style. It was good though.
One of the things I miss about home is the change in weather, if you can believe that. Since we left the States, the only weather we have seen is hot and sunny. No rain, no thunder, no lightning. I think when I return I will probably go outside and jump in a puddle the first time it rains.
Anyway, I should end this. Thanks for your support, thoughts and prayers. At least for me, Iraq is not as bad as it is probably portrayed on the nightly news. I have actually met some very nice Iraqi citizens, and enjoy learning about their culture and views, especially political (now that they have that freedom). They enjoy learning about America also.
Love and prayers, Wesley
When I used to write things like this back to the States, it was mostly in email and shot out to all my contacts. I labeled the subject line, "News from the Engineer Front". I always signed them "Love and prayers".
A few years ago, I was printing the emails off to PDF files and saving them to my hard-drive. Then I would delete that email. My plan was to eventually print each one to paper and place them in a three-ring binder for my children. At the end of 2006, my hard-drive crashed and I lost a number of them. I did not have them backed up and learned my lesson. For the sake of Part III, I'm glad I found the electronic version of this letter.
Of course, as the years go by, and other events take precedence in my mind, I don't remember as much about what happened day to day "over there". Early on, I had started a journal, but it did not stick. It's so easy when we are going through life to think that we will remember the really significant events later.
What are you experiencing today while thinking, "I'll need to remember this later"?
3 weeks ago