Home sweet home

Sunday July 6
Today has been a whirlwind. I haven’t stopped moving long enough for my surroundings to sink in and I am trying to rush myself to sleep before I begin to feel the 6,000 miles between my family and friends.

I left DC in the afternoon on the 4th of July. American Airlines took me to JFK where I window shopped and grabbed some dinner before boarding Royal Jordanian Air for my 12 hour flight to Amman.

I popped 2 Dramamine and slept the entire way. I had wanted to see the Earth from the sky, but my aisle seat prohibited my view, so sleep was second best. I will catch the aerial view of the Mediterranean on the way home.

I had a friend of a friend greet me at the airport in Amman and see me to my hotel. I had schawarma for dinner—a Jordanian style soft taco of sorts.

I can usually take in stride the hurry up and wait that ensues working for the US government, but I wasn’t laughing when the night before I had no time confirmation for my military flight to Baghdad.

I arrived at the airport a few hours early and after a quick panic seeing no Americans of Military, I met a friend who would be on the same flight! We practiced my Arabic and chatted about what I should expect when we landed in Baghdad.

Though I’d been briefed on the climate and the worst case scenarios, nothing could have prepared me for the emotion when my foot hit the pavement de-boarding at Biap.

As I de-boarded the C-17, I watched my right foot hit the pavement. I sucked in a breath of heat and in an instant every emotion known to man cascaded through my toes up to my head ricocheting back down through my heart and into my left leg which moved instinctively behind my right.

It is a war zone. A secured off section by concrete and chicken wire is the US military area.

I proceeded for a quick debrief and was rushed through the base to grab my bullet proof vest and helmet and immediately turned to board my helo to the IZ. (IZ is the International Zone, or the Green Zone)

I have had guardian angels sent to me so far in each step of this adventure. A friend to pick me up from the airport, a helicopter to pick me up from Biap (Baghdad International Air Port) The happen chance meeting of 2 men who work in the office adjacent to me to escort me into the Palace to see my new home away from home: the protocol office.