I was supposed to be in Anah for the reopening of a courthouse. This is a significant milestone in the march toward the rule of law. A few months ago, nobody could find a judge willing to stand up to the terrorists. Tomorrow there will be a courthouse, the symbol of the rule of law. Our funds helped rebuild and furnish the courthouse. That is one reason I really wanted to go and see what we had wrought.
I was happily in my can at 730 when I got a knock on the door. I had to go to the airports immediately to catch my helicopter flight. This kind of short notice is not unusual. I keep my stuff good to go. Breakfast? We don’t need no breakfast. We picked up Sam, our new and very good translator, an American citizen born in Iraq. This is great because he has local knowledge AND a security clearance, and headed out.
We got there for show time. I made an entry about show time a couple months ago. Suffice to say, show time is not always closely related to departure time. Although we had sunny clear skies, it was evidently sand-storming someplace, because we had a weather alert. We formed up and went to the flight line. I have learned the system, so when I got there, I laid down in the sun and took a nap. The air was cool, but the sun was warm. It was not bad if you can filter out the noise and smells. I have learned that too.
About 20 minutes later, I heard the sound of Ospreys, got in line and walked onto the tarmac. Unfortunately, it was not our flight. Back to the flight line and a few more minutes of rest. Then the “shepherd” comes by and tells us the weather has closed in. We go back to the terminal and sit. I read my book. A very good one about Iraqi history my friend Tim thoughtfully sent me.
It was getting on toward lunch time, so I went to see what the MRE situation was like. It was, sad to say, normal. I had something labeled cheese and what they said was wheat bread. Bread in MREs comes packed with one of those little silica packets you get in the pockets of new clothes. That tells you something about the quality of the product. I am not sure you could tell it was bread in a blind taste test. But hunger is the best cook. I ate two pieces. My colleague Sam asked me whether it was mold or a type of fruit sauce on his desert cookie. I asked him if he thought it really mattered. He said no and ate the cookie.
Our flight was called again. We tramped out and went back to the flight line. I resumed my previous position, now wonderfully enhanced by a warmer sun. The flight shepherd came by and promised the helicopter would be there in 15 minutes. Twenty minutes later he came back and said that he had good and bad news. The good new was that the helicopters were coming. The bad news was that we couldn’t get on them. They were going straight to Al Qaim with no stops. Seems they were late (yes) and making up time. He told us to come back at 2000. We left the flight line just as the chow hall closed.
I went back at 2000. There was no flight going to Rawah/Anah. The guy at the desk told me that I should have been on the flight that left at 930. I explained that I was there for that very flight. It did not actually show up until 1330 and it did not go to Rawah/Anah at all. He looked at the book and said that the flight was scheduled for 930 and his book showed it had gone. Where it had gone in reality was neither specified in the book nor a concern of his. Anyway, my options were to stay there all night and try to get a flight in the morning or go home and come back and try to get a flight in the morning. Which option I chose also was not one of his concerns. I chose option #2. That is where I am today. If you don’t see an entry from me tomorrow, it probably means I was successful.
Of course, if I don’t make it to Anah, I might not write because I will have nothing interesting to report. The MREs will neither improve nor deteriorate. It will likely be cool and sunny tomorrow, as it was today and as it is every day this time of year. I really want to go to Anah. I have never been there. I hear it is a planned city, planned by the French more than 80 years ago. It is supposed to be a pleasant place. That would be a nice change. Take a look at the Al Asad pictures in my last blog note and you may understand what I mean. The French are good at planning cities and complicated meals. Pierre L’Enfant planned Washington DC. Now there is a subway stop named after him. People should do what they are good at doing.