I finished up my time in Baghdad way back on the 4th of July. There is not a more fitting place to celebrate the birth of our nation that to be where another free nation is being born. How well the current situation works out for the Iraqis is still very much up in the air, from my knowledge of history, the future of the US didn't look any better in 1776, or 1812, or 1865. Like the war or hate the war, I would hope we all wish the best for the people or Iraq.
One of my colleagues in Iraq took the time to show me around the Al Faw Palace which was used by Saddam as a resort for his loyal party members. The palace look more ornate than any of the other palaces that I visited, though I have read that the gold isn't and the walls are paper thin and this huge chandelier is part plastic. Still, you can't scoff too much as a half-million square feet of floor space.
To give a little perspective to how big this chandelier is, here is another view from above. The chandelier is as big as the octagon on the floor below it (compare it to the people below).
Some of my best writing on this trip was about the "facilities." Here is a picture of some of the facilities in the palace (holy crap!).
Here is a photo that gives a little idea about how much fun it can be to drive around in Iraq. We were still on the base, but it still really sucked. (There is a truck directly ahead of us)
Here are a couple of left-over Iraqi tanks. Looks like the army left them there as trophies.
Overall, I'm glad I went. Iraq is a hot, dusty, and generally uncomfortable place. I never got used to eating meals in the chow halls and using community facilities for bathing and other personal matters. I sure did enjoy that first long shower at home.
On the otherhand, I didn't go there for a vacation. I went there to work and to test myself a little bit. While I was there I did good work, I kept my patience, and I rolled with the punches (like doing without my luggage for the first 3 days). I missed home, but never felt homesick. I left feeling like both the military and contractors liked having me there. There is no doubt that they treated me well.
Will I go back? I doubt it. Three weeks is a long time to be gone and it put a lot on Dr. K's shoulders. I like my home too much to be away for so long. But, in case the situation arises where I'm the guy that they have to have, I'll reserve the right to reevaluate.
It's good to be back.