Monday, October 02, 2006

The Sand

From the air at night, Kuwait City looks like a carpet of topaz against the
black veil of the Persian Gulf. Looking closely, one can see palm trees
lining every street and highway, and with office towers spearing the
nighttime horizon with their light, it's clear to see that this is a
bustling city, home to many successful people.

The first thing that most people talk about when describing the Middle East
is the heat. Descriptions fail it. The air descends on a person like a
heavy blanket, from the moment one steps off of the tarmac. The wind smells
like scorched figs. From Kuwait City into the outlying areas, the terrain
is primarily sagebrush and low ficus, but a few hours west and the terrain
quickly shifts to barren desert hardpan. I've never been in the desert
before, and so the sheer quantity of NOTHING strikes me mute.

I've been in Kuwait for about a week, though where exactly I can't be sure.
I'm on a base somewhere remote, waiting to be sent into Iraq, but I'd prefer
not to disclose the name here. I've been busy. Replenishing supplies,
studying for promotion boards, training on weaponry and first-aid, cleaning
my rifle, and most of all drinking water. Jesus, I've been sweating a lot.
The afternoons are the worst; the time when we all pretty much hide out in
the air-conditioned tents. One learns quickly that, out here, the biggest
source of heat is not the dry air or proximity to the equator, but literally
the sheer amount of sunlight. Bouncing off the sand into your eyes, it
amplifies into a harsh, washed-out whiteness. Taking a walk without
sunglasses is literally a health risk.

On the high side,that same sand buffs my suede boots to a perfect nap--must
be all the grit. But man, it gets into my rifle, my clothing--everything.
Amenities like running water are spare, but things like fast food and cheap
souvenirs are sundry--local and foreign nationals have set up Burger Kings,
Subways, and even a Taco Bell here. I can get a Double Cheeseburger with
Bacon and a fake Rolex, but I can't take a fucking shower without the water
pressure cutting off. Amazing.

I'm doing okay. Safe for the moment, but bored. I'll be better off once
I'm in Iraq proper, working a stable week. I miss my wife, but I try to
contact her when I get the chance. Hearing her voice light up on the other
end when she recognizes me always manages to brighten my spirits. In the
meantime, I expect entries from here out will be spare, but keep checking
in. I'll send out dispatches whenever I'm able.


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Blogger toadman said...

Great descriptions. Thanks for doing this.

3:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Burger King...Taco Bell...No Running Water...sounds like a dirty loners wet dream...I keed...take care and be safe...From the Airpit of America, Cleveland, OH...The TB

4:58 PM  
Blogger Softball Slut said...

Be Safe and God Speed.

5:42 PM  
Blogger cinnabari said...

Re: Taco Bells and Burger Kings... What's that line from Pitch Black? "It's amazing how you can do without the necessities of life, as long as you have the little luxuries."

Yeah. I always thought that was bullshit, too.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

6:03 PM  
Blogger essa said...

Sounds about what my husband says... at least you're there in the last part of the high heat. Believe it or not, it's cool there. Be safe.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous mik said...

Your descriptions are phenomenal. I feel like I am there. Pardon, while I go get a drink of cold water...

The sand, the heat, the nothingness of the desert...God, I hope, as Essa says, it cools down, soon.

Thanks for sharing. Come home safely.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Will check back often - you know it!

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Carla said...

I'm grateful to read you, Milo. Glad you're writing. You're in my prayers.

6:40 PM  
Blogger essa said...

I hope you're doing well!

4:06 PM  

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