Getting a picture on a camel is something that I can get done while here. Although, I don’t see them parked outside, so there must be some other place I need to go.
There are daily excursions here that people find very popular. It’s a lot like shore excursions on a cruise — shopping trips, museum tours, local cuisine, city tours, etc. However, the big draw for me is just getting away from Baghdad.
I’ve been wearing a uniform every day since mid-June, and today is the first time I’ve put on my jeans since then. They still fit, barely. I’ve been losing weight since I’ve been here.
Still, for all the excitement of not getting shot at (or the opportunity to contribute to the Qatari economy), it is a complete pain in the rear to get here.
In order to fly out of Baghdad, I had to manifest, or check-in, for my flight about 29 hours in advance. Then, I had to check-in again about 3 hours ahead of time… and again an hour ahead of time. The flight finally lifted off at about 3:15 a.m. I had been awake for about 20 hours by this point.
We didn’t fly to Qatar. Instead, we flew to Kuwait. I walked in the terminal at about 5-something as the sun was coming up. We were told that the show time for our next flight was at about 2:30p. It was nearly 6a, and I needed sleep.
I asked for a room at the lodging office, and they set me up with a bunk in a tent. There was a mattress, but sheets and pillows were unavailable to me. I slept in my uniform just so I wouldn’t get cold from the air conditioning piped into the tent.
I managed to sleep for a couple hours, get some food from the local McDonald’s and head over to the passenger terminal. I found out the show time was nearly six hours ahead of my actual flight time, and we were placed on lock down (like a prison). No internet, no phones, no dinner, some snacks, lots of water, a bathroom, and a snow cone stand.
We arrived in Qatar at about 8:30 p.m. and went through inprocessing and customs. Then we got on a bus where we went through customs again. At that point, we sat and waited… and waited… and waited… and waited for our escorts to arrive. More than an hour late, they arrived, and we drove to Camp As Sayliyah.
We finally got out of our inprocessing briefing at about 1 a.m. I was issued a squeaky bunk in a large room filled with bunks, and given some linens (which don’t fit my bed).
After more than two days of attempting to get here, I had finally arrived and was able to rest. Still, if I had known all the trouble I would have had to go through, I never would have made the trip.
I left Baghdad to avoid the threat of getting killed, but I also left a few good friends (and my patience) behind. All things being equal, I would rather be there sleeping in my room… something I’ll be doing again soon.