Thursday, November 17, 2005

Another Trip to Iraq

It was Saturday Nov. 5, 2005 and I was getting ready to go to the airport
on my 11th trip to Iraq in the past three years. Packed and ready to go,
Hussein picked me up and drove south toward Beirut's Rafik Hariri
International Airport. I walk inside and take a look. Ohhhhh nooooooooo. It
is packed with hundreds of people who spent Eid al-Fitr that marks the end
of Ramadan in Beirut and were heading back now. Took my boarding pass half
an hour later and waited for MEA's flight to Amman. Some 45 minutes later we
land in the Jordanian capital and Mohammed is waiting for me. During the 30-minute trip from the airport to the hotel, Mohammed, a chain smoker, burnt at least three cigarettes. As I walk in the man on the front desk looks at me with a big fake smile on his face. "Welcome. Hope you had a good trip." I reply with a
smile and give him my passport. The man types on the keyboard, then look at
me and say: "This is the 10th time you stay at our hotel. I will give you a
no smoking room." Shortly afterward I met my friend Hamza, who I haven't
seen in nine months and was heading to Cairo. A brief chat with him about Baghdad and his three kids then he heads to the airport.
ΒΆ On Sunday morning, Mohammed again picked me up from the hotel and took me
to Amman's Queen Alia Airport to take Royal Jordanian flight 814 to the
Iraqi capital. An hour after taking off, we were over Baghdad. The Tigris
river can be seen cutting the city into an eastern part known as Risafa and
Karkh on the west side. "We will be landing shortly," the pilot said while
turning over the airport. Unlike the normal landings done around the world,
pilots flying over the Iraqi capital have to take into consideration
possible fire or rockets by insurgents. A sharp descend begins in spiraling
turns until we land at Baghdad Airport that used to be called Saddam
International Airport until April 2003.
I take my bags and head out where R is waiting. "How is the situation
these days?" I asked. "Well same as it was when you were last here," he
replied. "Oh no. The last time I was here there were many explosions, shootings and assassinations. We then headed to the central Saadoun street in the world's most
dangerous city. After a short drive we reach a white sign on the right side
of the road that reads in red: "You are leaving a secure area." On our left
side stood the statue of Abbas Ibn Firnas, extending his hands covered with
feathers. Ibn Firnas is the Muslim physician who tried to fly in Andalusia
in 875 A.D. by wearing a suit of feathers.
A bit later, R suddenly stops. From a distance we can see U.S. troops
blocking the road the cuts through the Furat neighborhood so he turns left
heading north where we get stuck in terrible traffic near the Zawra Garden
where hundreds of children wearing their new uniforms for the Eid played at
the Luna Park. Near this garden, a massive bronze statue of Saddam Hussein extending his right hand used to stand but was brought down hours after his fall in 2003. An hour later we reached the hotel where I and my bags got searched three times before reaching my room. As I left my room one of my colleague walked toward me extending his right hand.
"Welcome to paradise," he said then burst into laughter.

4 Comments:

At 4:46 AM, Blogger oakleyses said...

longchamp outlet, gucci handbags, jordan shoes, nike free run, ugg boots, oakley sunglasses, kate spade outlet, christian louboutin uk, louis vuitton outlet, tiffany jewelry, oakley sunglasses, nike air max, prada handbags, polo ralph lauren, nike free, air max, louis vuitton, oakley sunglasses wholesale, chanel handbags, louis vuitton, replica watches, louboutin pas cher, michael kors pas cher, prada outlet, christian louboutin outlet, longchamp outlet, oakley sunglasses, nike roshe, nike outlet, tiffany and co, tory burch outlet, ray ban sunglasses, longchamp outlet, replica watches, jordan pas cher, burberry pas cher, polo ralph lauren outlet online, sac longchamp pas cher, cheap oakley sunglasses, uggs on sale, polo outlet, longchamp pas cher, ugg boots, ray ban sunglasses, christian louboutin shoes, nike air max, ray ban sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet, christian louboutin

 
At 4:48 AM, Blogger oakleyses said...

burberry handbags, uggs outlet, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet online, timberland pas cher, true religion outlet, guess pas cher, replica handbags, michael kors outlet, sac hermes, nike tn, ralph lauren uk, converse pas cher, michael kors outlet, hollister pas cher, ray ban uk, ray ban pas cher, coach outlet store online, burberry outlet, kate spade, nike free uk, mulberry uk, nike air max uk, new balance, coach purses, nike blazer pas cher, nike roshe run uk, hollister uk, uggs outlet, abercrombie and fitch uk, nike air force, true religion outlet, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet, nike air max, lululemon canada, polo lacoste, michael kors, nike air max uk, true religion outlet, true religion jeans, coach outlet, hogan outlet, oakley pas cher, north face, sac vanessa bruno, michael kors, vans pas cher

 
At 4:52 AM, Blogger oakleyses said...

nike huaraches, nike air max, lululemon, north face outlet, hermes belt, ralph lauren, iphone 6 plus cases, giuseppe zanotti outlet, s6 case, mac cosmetics, timberland boots, iphone 6 cases, iphone 6s cases, hollister, mcm handbags, ipad cases, iphone 6s plus cases, nfl jerseys, new balance shoes, herve leger, chi flat iron, mont blanc pens, ferragamo shoes, bottega veneta, soccer shoes, oakley, wedding dresses, insanity workout, iphone 5s cases, louboutin, p90x workout, beats by dre, hollister clothing, babyliss, north face outlet, valentino shoes, nike trainers uk, nike roshe run, jimmy choo outlet, abercrombie and fitch, soccer jerseys, baseball bats, celine handbags, ghd hair, longchamp uk, reebok outlet, iphone cases, asics running shoes, instyler, vans outlet

 
At 4:54 AM, Blogger oakleyses said...

moncler, pandora jewelry, canada goose, toms shoes, canada goose outlet, converse, gucci, doudoune moncler, moncler, links of london, canada goose jackets, juicy couture outlet, moncler uk, ugg uk, hollister, canada goose outlet, marc jacobs, moncler, wedding dresses, pandora jewelry, vans, pandora charms, converse outlet, louis vuitton, canada goose uk, montre pas cher, moncler outlet, barbour uk, ugg pas cher, pandora uk, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, barbour, moncler, replica watches, lancel, hollister, karen millen uk, swarovski, louis vuitton, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, nike air max, louis vuitton, louis vuitton, ray ban, louis vuitton, moncler outlet, swarovski crystal, thomas sabo, juicy couture outlet, coach outlet, supra shoes, canada goose

 

Post a Comment

<< Home

Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma