Keep Frozen

My home… this is.  Above is the VIP tent at Mudaysis. 

Sleeping on a cot in a tent is never comfortable.  A modern cot is made out of synthetic fabric that has the peculiar capacity to draw away and dissipate body heat.  This would make cots great hot weather equipment, but the fabric evidently can accomplish its mission only on cold days. You wouldn’t believe how cold it gets in Iraq.   I was equipped with my thin sleeping bag.  Even wearing everything I had with me, I was freezing.  The first night was the worst.  We experienced one of those rare days when it was overcast all day.  Usually, you can count on the warmth of the sun to clear the cold from your bones, but for the record on New Years day 2008, the sun shined weakly or not at all in Mudaysis.  Temperatures hovered in the 40s at midday.   At night the clouds cleared permitting a drop into the 20s.  I have never been so cold for so long.  Coming from a Wisconsin native, who went to school in Minnesota and served tours in Poland and Norway, this might sound strange.   I certainly have been more intensely cold, but not for two days solid.  In the cold climates, really cold places, we heat our dwellings, wear warm clothes and hunker down inside warm buildings when it gets really cold outside.

Necessity is the mother of invention. On the way to chow the next morning, I noticed lots of discarded cardboard boxes.  I took a couple back to the tent and made the thermo-mat you see in the pictures.   The boxes were ironically labeled – KEEP FROZEN.  Cardboard, as every bum & drifter knows, is a good insulator.  It really made my second day in the cold tent a lot less unpleasant. 

We traveled to this God forsaken high desert in the SW corner of Iraq along the border with Saudi Arabia to meet with the local sheik to talk about problems the drought is creating for local agriculture.  There is usually not a Marine camp here.  The Marines are stationed temporarily at Mudaysis to protect pilgrims going on the Hajj.  They arrived just before the Hajj began a few weeks ago.  We take it for granted because we see it so often, but it remains truly remarkable how the U.S. can project power anywhere on the globe.  Even here in the middle of what could pass as a science for a movie about Mars, we can set up and supply a camp, complete with hot meals, its own fire department and fully functioning command operation out in the desert.  Heated tents for visitors, however, is evidently beyond our powers.

Below are my friends Reid & Dennis at the chow hall.