Sleeping in the Bates Motel

Tomahawk Village LodgingEarlier this week, I traveled up to Camp Taji to prepare for a media visit, which occurred today. What I didn’t expect was that I would be put up in the Iraqi version of the Bates Motel.

If you’ve ever been on the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot tour, you’ve seen the Bates Motel made famous in the movie “Psycho.”

Calling this place the “Bates Motel” was giving it a LOT of credit. In fact, it was a generous characterization. My room was about 10×8 feet, and there were FOUR beds within. Fortunately, I had no roommate for this visit.

Assault BoatOne of the more interesting parts of the complex was not the dirty floors or the bathrooms where you were required to use bottled water to brush your teeth. It was this Iraqi boat that was prominently displayed in the courtyard of the Tomahawk Village lodging (the actual name of the Bates Motel).

The gun itself was Russian-made, which was evident given the Russian writing all over it. Coincidentally, old Iraqi jets were also Russian MiGs… covered in Russian writing on the wiring, etc.

Camp Taji RuinsIt turns out Taji used to be an old Iraqi Army base. Right next to the lodging facility we stayed in, which I presume received one fake sapphire on the AAA Five-Diamond rating system, were these old destroyed buildings.

Looking at the structure and design of the buildings, I gather that they were most likely barracks used by the Iraqi Army. If you think about the bay-style barracks you’ve seen in films like “Full Metal Jacket,” this would fit the bill.

All that’s left there now is a fairly damp mud pit filled with broken bricks and old beer bottles left there by others passing through. This ground is probably the most fertile land in Iraq, and it’s a blown-up building.

Tank GraveyardFinally, the most impressive thing that causes Camp Taji to stand out is its tank graveyard.

There are hundreds of these old Iraqi tanks left for dead at Camp Taji. All of them are destroyed or in various states of non-function.

Most of them have some form of graffiti on them left by Coalition Forces. Some of the graffiti is inappropriate for this site, but generally has to do with the size of the cannon on the tanks.

I leave that to your imagination, but I did see a phrase made famous in “Full Metal Jacket” painted on the barrel of one of the tanks.

4 thoughts on “Sleeping in the Bates Motel

  1. Looks like you have been treated to the royal suites of Iraq. i xcan’t imagine being stuck in this surounding. But like you said you didn’t have a roommate, so you got to take in all the sites in all of their true glory, no matter how sorted it may be.
    Love and miss you. See you soon.

  2. It IS just a little larger than Bates, but not much. Watch out for crazies running around with the Sword of Damocles.

  3. Having spent a good portion of my 2007 tour at Camp Taji, I’m glad that you got to see for yourself some of the things I too had to experience back then. My favorite thing to do was to go take pictures of the tank grave yard and even did portraits for some of the folks I was with. And yes, some of that graffiti was left by my folks too.

    That said, lots of good memories of living there — save the Bates Motel. I’m glad that I didn’t experience what you were treated to.

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