I’m back in Balad, Iraq again. “Salah-ad-Din” is the name of the province where we are. Kind of like California is the state, and Camarillo is the city; so it is with Salah-ad-Din being the Iraqi province and Balad being the city close to our base. The capital city of this province is Tikrit, up north. About 98% of the Americans on this base have no idea the name of the province we are in.
My flight from Ali Al Salem air base in Kuwait was on Friday, June 26. The flight left a few hours after midnight. Actually, this was a good time to travel, because in the middle of the night it is not so hot. It is quite unpleasant mid-day in Kuwait, with temperatures well over 100 and humidity high, and wearing my body armor, helmet, and carrying my luggage. I got back to my room around 4Am on Friday last week.
Our group was lucky, because we got to fly on a nice, big C-17 cargo plane. These planes are about 4 stories high, and look like this:
(note the size of the trucks on the left, and the fact that they are loading a full Blackhawk helicopter onto this C-17!! Yes it is 4 stories high at the tail!).
The flight was fast, it only took about an hour to reach Joint Base Balad (JBB) from Kuwait, whereas the C-130 prop plane that I took on my trip out lasted a bit over two hours.
It’s kind of good to be back in Iraq. I get to sleep in my own bed, and living conditions are better than they are in Kuwait. Also, I’m back at work, and that is positive. I enjoy doing work at my office as opposed to sitting around in a tent in Kuwait. I would like to see through my deployment, and finish strong. Right now, I have less than 90 days left on the deployment, so it won’t be that much longer until I can return to California forever!
There are two problems. First, the weather is furiously hot. Look at this weather forecast over the next few days:
Today’s weather is “blowing dust.” And I’ve never seen a forecast using the terms “blazing sunshine” and “very hot with sizzling sunshine.” My personal favorite is “smoke,” the smell of which was very noticeable my first day back. The past several days has seen a windy duststorm, which has coated everything with dust. In fact, when I returned from leave after having been gone for about 20 days, everything in my room was covered with a thick layer of dust.
But the overall weather picture is one of extreme heat. Las Vegas has nothing on Iraq: it is much hotter here. Normal temperatures are well over 100F, and it does get to 120F most days (that is 50 C for my international readers!!). Even at night it is hot and at least in the 90’s. In the morning, at 5AM, it is bearable at 80F and sunny, but this does not last long. The heat is oppressive, and it will be like this for the rest of my deployment. I end up sweaty after spending any more than 5 minutes outside. Even the Iraqis avoid going out to work during the daytime now. This is not the time to take a vacation in Iraq!
The second problem is that after returning to Iraq, I’ve been very jet-lagged. I’ve been waking up every night around 1AM, and then staying awake for 2-3 hours. Today I woke up at 1:30 and haven’t been able to get back to sleep at all, which will be a problem later today. A website offered advice on jetlag saying it takes about a day to recover for each time zone you cross. This sounds about right, as I crossed 10 time zones, and am still not quite recovered after a week. Hence the title of this post.