The Trip to Mosul

Outward Bound

I finally get all the approvals to go. This involves me short-circuiting the process and going straight to the people I need to get things done. Going through the proper HR chain involves about 8 different layers of obfuscation. I get all the pieces collected, and tell travel when I am going. I make this decision on my own, but no one questions me. It’s a relief to get this all in process since not only am I trying to get out of here, I am trying to get out of here on a specific schedule so that I can visit with that special someone on the way out.

Everything works out well in the end. We get in quite early Thursday morning, and gobble down a good breakfast. I make a call and arrange to meet Guli around noon. I tell her I will be happy but not drunk at that point. Since I know that due to her problems with the concept of time, I tell her that when she shows up at 1:30 then I may well be drunk, and it will be her fault. As it happens, I am delayed in getting my cleaning ritual done by water problems. First none, then air-filled spurting, and finally pissy looking water comes out. Eventually it clears up, and I get back in action. The little delay keeps my somewhat sober, but when Guli shows up around 1:20 (I’m pretty good) I am still quite happy already, and much more so that I get to see her after so long. I had wanted to take her dinner that evening but we don’t get around to it. In fact, usually when I am at the hotel I eat no more than once a day. Since I have been so busy, I’ve actually been doing that for a couple of days before. To clarify, I usually don’t eat at the hotel because I am a lazy bastard, not due to being busy. Anyways, I don’t eat until mid-afternoon of the next day when I get a plate of fries to tide me over until she gets back, thinking we’ll do the dinner thing that night. I find out just after ordering that she will bring a pizza in. I have three beers, and am being quite silly. Later, after an amateurish yet effective attempt at poisoning me, I hack up the French fry remnants and am not much good the rest of the evening. No pizza for me. I am embarrassed. I only throw up like once a year. What a waste.

Birds

I start the day off right by being slightly late downstairs in the morning. They leave me and I have to take a taxi to the airport. Baha apologizes, but says they had so many people they had to go. We still have to wait forever, so I don’t know what the point was, but hey, there it is.

I’m getting real tired of the aisle seat. I wonder if people are doing it on purpose, out of some silly idea that you have more room that way. Hell no you don’t, since if you stick out into the aisle they are just going to hit you repeatedly while going back and forth. I prefer the window, since you can lean up against the wall out of the way.

In Frankfurt Airport I hear something I haven’t heard in a while, and kind of forgot about — the dreaded crying child. It’s interesting because the night before there’d been a discussion about kids. I figured I was no longer so afraid of that. Heh. At least I still have some time. 

I eat at McDonald’s in Frankfurt just because I can. I haven’t had a milkshake in a long time. I didn’t particularly feel hungry after a couple of airline meals, but I wanted some good American style fries. It gives me a reason to spend some of the 12 Euro in coins I have accumulated over a year and then some…

On the plane to Kuwait, I watch a video for some Arabic boy band. I’m here to tell you, they are the same the world over. The same sound, same moves, same gestures, same video shooting techniques. It’s a global problem kids! Shocked

I look out the window while half-heartedly watching the inflight movie. There’s all sorts of irrigation features with many visible dams. The movie ends and the display shifts to the map. I realize it is the Tigris river I am following, and Baghdad is not too far away, but not visible. We flew over Mosul already and I missed it. I did pick out an airbase at one point, but I think we were still over Turkey.

Refinery fires in Kuwait stick out in the gathering dusk, little bits of flame searing into the night, lighting up the sky as the sun sinks down over the horizon. Some of these little bits of flame are actually quite large. There is a whole heck of a lot of them, too. Hey, I guess this IS the Middle East though.

While riding to the APOD – don’t ask me what it stands for – we are regaled by tales of a truck driver. I certainly wouldn’t take his job. He has a particularly interesting story about when he was driving his fuel tanker and hit an anti-tank mine. He managed to get lucky, and it didn’t detonate under the cab, but under the trailer full of JP8 jet fuel. Since it burns slow, it just caught fire, allowing him to drive out of the kill zone before stopping. The truck just limped out, being it was now dragging a lot of junk where an axle used to be. He knew a guy who got shot 4 times and still wanted to come back. That’s crazy. Like I said, I ain’t gonna be no truck driver. I’ll be in Mosul, on the airbase so I’m not too worried.

APOD



Here’s the KBR HQ compound. I never went in there.

Into the transient tent I go. Yay! It’s a giant tent with a bunch of cots for your sleeping pleasure. It’s semi-adequately cooled. Kuwait is a dusty craphole. As it turns out, this place is in the middle of shutting down. I am one of the last few people to manifest for a flight out of here.


There is another IT guy here. He’s been here about 4 months, and is coming back from R&R. He is the expert on everything for the new hires. He makes all sorts of pronouncements, and very much enjoys having his audience to enthrall with tales of action and intrigue. He knows just about everything about Iraq. It is quite amusing to listen to him, and I mostly do listen to what he says, I just mentally tone it down just a bit.

More Birds

Finally, after 3 ½ action packed days, I get on a flight. I have been the only person in a huuuge tent for over 24 hours. The base is closing down, and I am the last KBR person to fly out from there, as the staff and future flights out move to Doha instead. It takes forever, but eventually we board a C-130 Hercules transport to Mosul. We’ll fly to Mosul, and the plane will go back via Baghdad and let people off there. We taxi for what seems like forever, and I wonder if we are going to taxi all the way north. Since there are no visible windows from the seating area, which is comprised of netting, I have no idea where we are or what exactly we are doing. I can tell we are taxiing because the plane is moving back and forth. The flight is generally uneventful, though we do pull a decent number of gs, both positive and negative, at the end of the flight. It’s funny to thing that at no point did I ever get the concern that the pilot didn’t know what he was doing, or was playing “where’s the fucking runway?” like Uzbek Airways does.

We get off at the airfield, grab bags, and sign in. I get several abbreviated briefings. Since I am a transfer and not a new hire, they give me credit for understanding some things already. Not long after I start running into people I know. It’s a good feeling to go to a new place and already feel semi-established. The next morning is like old-home week, with several more old friends and co-workers showing up. I am slated to go to the Mosul Palace and be “the guy” since they have only a few users, and I have shown I can handle myself and my own site. I look for a way to get to Glory instead, since that is where the main group of K2 people are at. I think I will probably end up at the Palace for a while.

4 Responses to “The Trip to Mosul”

  1. Robert Says:

    I dunno — there’s apparently a few palaces there in the immediate area. I haven’t been there yet, so I’m not sure. I couldn’t get on a chopper today, on account of everyone was sorta busy. We had an interesting morning.

    And it may be hard to tell by the way I wrote it, but I was up in Tashkent for two days, and no, I wasn’t ralphing the whole time. :)

  2. Robert Says:

    It was interesting how it was all so coordinated. Things here mostly quieted down after about an hour or so, but we did have a new post with some MPs up on top of our roof last night. I didn’t hear anything last night, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

  3. Imported Comments Says:

    From Eagl:

    *flashbacks|me*

    What is the palace? The Glory?

    I hope you and Guli got to do more than watch you drink and barf… :)

  4. Imported Comments Says:

    From Eagl:

    Interesting morning… CNN is reporting the entire country is in revolt and the Marines are sitting back doing nothing about it. I don’t know how 90 dead in 5 cities is a real revolt, but the whackos with the bombs are sure getting their message across thanks to our fine news sources. :rolleyes_wp:

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