Friday, January 09, 2004

Balad Vs. Baghdad

January 9, 2003

Everyone keeps asking me if where I am going is safer than where I am now. I really don't know. If you ask anyone over here, they will probably give you the same answer. We are conditioned to believe that it's dangerous everywhere. And it's true - especially in this war - it doesn't matter where you are, it's possible something will happen. But the odds are it won't. Having said that, I'm sad to leave this mud pit we call Camp Anaconda. In spite of my constant complaining about things, I am going to miss it. After all, it was here that I almost found my husband...let me explain.

After the U.S ran the Iraqis out of here in the early 90's, this place was a mess. So in order to pump money back into the Iraqi population (using Saddam's money), we are paying the Iraqis to fix it up again. Every morning a handful of Iraqi men come to work in our building. You all know me - I am not an egomaniac -but these men LOVE me. SGT Campsey and I are the only females in this building, so when we walk in, they literally stop working, take a moment (or ten), stare, say hello, and talk to each other in Arabic, about us. SGT Campsey has no time for that nonsense so she just keeps walking and really doesn't pay them any attention. But I have a complex about dismissing them, and then they, in return, think Americans are mean. That's a lot of responsibility to put on my own shoulders, I know, but welcome to my way of thinking. So the first time I see them, I shake their hands, introduce myself, and take pictures. After all, we just bombed the hell out of their country, killed their relatives, took over their country and now we're paying them $5 a day for labor. It's the least this American can do. So, it's all good - I have a handful of new friends, I am doing my part in the peace process, and I've given them a reason to look forward to work. But I had no idea that I just laid the foundation for a 'promise'.
Two days ago, one of them came up to me and showed me an article in PEOPLE about how American male soldiers are meeting Iraqi women and marrying them. So he says, “American - you. Iraqi - me. see? we do. you – me.”, in broken English of course. So I laugh and blow it off. Then yesterday, one of the men pulls out about 250 dinar, which is about 15 cents. He says “promise, promise” to SGT Dayes, a guy on my team who is guarding them. I was in my room at the time. SGT Dayes is thinking he wants to exchange money and he says “no thanks man, i'm cool” and so the guy says, “no, promise, girl” and points to my room. He was giving SGT Dayes money to promise me as his wife! SGT Dayes about fell over and started laughing. The man already has 2 wives and 10 kids! Doesn't he realize I need someone all to myself? What's worse is he's only 5"5'. My husband has to be 6" at least!

So much for the continued individual peace efforts on my part. I'm now a hostage in my own room when they are here. And it's my own fault. Next time I will “pull a Campsey” and keep walking. I've learned my lesson. They're harmless, except when they make 'promises'. And since we are leaving in the morning, I'm no longer a hostage.

With Love,
Addie

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