A sandstorm came up early this morning and ruined the day. I could smell dust in the air when I woke. Bad. Got so much dust in my room I had to change the sheets on my bed. Still going, just hope it clears for tomorrow. This is tough land. The people who've lived here over the millennia are tough. Summer is an oven and winter is cold. It was hitting the low thirties every night for a couple weeks in January and it even snowed once. They said it was the first time in 80 years it snowed in Baghdad. I guess the locals don't have a word for snow, so they were calling it frozen rain or something to that effect.
When it rains, the mud is different from anything I've ever seen. Everybody talks about it like its magic. Its as thick as potters clay, when you walk through it, it builds up and collects anything you step on, making you taller as you go. Even if it hasn't rained for months, the ground doesn't absorb the water.
There are days when this is, without a doubt, the ugliest place I've ever been. I don't mean Iraq, I mean the little perimeter I'm stuck in. I have no idea what the rest of the country is like. But now and then, the sky gives us something nice. Not that the ugliness is so bad. Its so ugly, its interesting. I've been trying to capture it with a photo, but I'm not good enough. Beauty is an easier subject.
The water here fascinates me. On the flight back in, I saw a huge lake west of Baghdad. Not sure what its called or if its manmade or not. The desert is peaceful from the air. Its vast and empty, so I can only imagine what its like to pass through it on foot, then encounter one of these bodies of water. The contrast is powerful.
And of coarse there are the rivers. I saw the Euphrates on the same flight in. I love seeing it, for some reason it means a lot to me. If it wasn't for the Euphrates, the British would have never been interested in this region. They wanted it, because it gave them their best and fastest access to India, which was their cash cow back when. They sent their messages to and from India via the river. Kind of a Victorian pony express. As WWI ruptured, the regions oil came into play. The Brits started drawing odd national borders with rulers and making up nation states to their advantage, or so they thought. Almost a hundred years later and we're in up to our necks in the consequences of bad foreign policy, from then and now.
Its already getting hot. Yesterday was way over a hundred. My thermometer said over 105, but I can't believe it. My body has never been so acclimated to heat before. 105 is nothing.