When I reluctantly woke to my alarm clock this morning, I noticed my room seemed unusually dark. My first hope was that I had set my alarm wrong and still had an hour to sleep, but a glance at my watch showed it was indeed time to get up. I staggered to my fridge to grab a Redbull to start the day, and cracked open my door. I was greeted by a wall of sand. It’s called a Shamal.
One of our interpreters, Junior, calls this “The dust weather”, sandstorms that begin in the western deserts of
Junior warned us on the way to the gate that no one would be coming to work that day, and he was right. A handful of Iraqis came in, but for the most part everyone stayed home, except the soldiers. We manned our posts, wrapped our faces up and toughed it out. All I can say is that it has been a long day. When I got back to the “pod”, the collection of trailers that we live in, I climbed into the shower and attempted to scrub the sand off. It had penetrated every pore, through my armor and uniform, into every inch of my body it seemed. Now, a couple hours later, I still feel the film of sand working its way out of my skin, and as I am typing this I am coughing up chunks of the western desert. Junior, ever the optimist, showed me the silver lining; he assured me as we were leaving the gate “the dust weather is not all bad, you’ll see tomorrow the flies will all be dead!” Thanks, Junior, for giving me something to look forward to in the morning when I stagger to the fridge for the next Redbull.