Back to War

Deboarding into the dark, the dusty air carries the all too familiar scent of dust laced with traces of gun powder and thick exhaust.

I don't want to be here. My nose is bleeding by the time I walk from the plane to the warehouse/trailer that serves as the terminal. Because the sand is so fine, just breathing, it cuts the inside of my nose, which had gotten quite comfortable with fresh, American air. Hunkered down on a cement floor, soldiers sit all around me with circumstances more challenging than my own (and gear twice as heavy).

First miracle of Baghdad, a helo. All missions were cancelled and I was told I'd be arriving back to the IZ sometime in the middle of the night. Argh! The tears wanted to burst out, but I knew I'd look like the baby I felt like and there is no one to coddle me here.

I decided I'd walk to the helicopter desk and ask if I could get manifested. Please God, please The quick response was "Yes, you can go. I'll call you shortly" Woo Hoo! That would put me back in the IZ before dinner was over. The end of this journey was in sight. And I was reminded in this miracle that this is where I'm supposed to be. And now I'll be expedited returning. I know Afghanistan is going to be even harder and I'm still prepared for it, but mentally it's hard to shake back into accepting this season of my life.

Flying over the Red Zone still gives me butterflies. The army helicopter pilots look so cool. Their vigilance makes me ever grateful for my freedom.

When my helo landed, I called my friend Yousef, who is a driver in the IZ and he picked me up within minutes.

When I walked into 406, my amazing roommate greeted me and I was happy to "be home". The Italian Embassy was having a pizza party that I decided to fore go (And I am so glad I did, waking up the next morning to a puffy face that gave away the fact I'd been on a plane for 48 hours made me glad I'd skipped the sauce and slept!)

Crawling into my bed, I felt comfortable. I'd forgotten about this homey, loving oasis I have when I leave the stresses of work.

The adventure reconvenes tomorrow.


3 days in Jordan.

As I was flying out of Baghdad, my friend sitting next to me smiled and said, "Ah, did you leave it all behind, Beth?" No, I couldn't say I had. I planned to check out of the stresses of work, but I hadn't been able to let go, even deboarding in Jordan.

My friend Sam picked me up from the airport 5 minutes after I landed & took me to his house to meet his wife, sister-in-law and beautiful baby girl. After a delicious breakfast we were off to the dead sea.

The landscape was breathtaking. At one point I stuck my camera out the window to capture the horizon, as I pulled my arm back in to look at the shot, in the playback I saw sheep. And then a shepherd! I had been looking at the skyline & in front of my face was a bedwin herding his sheep.

Wow. Still there are shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night. I had no idea. They're called Bedouin's. It's true.

The dead sea was amazing! It is the lowest point on Earth, so your ears pop a million times on the descent to the water.

I tried to dive in, but you can't, the water is so salty you must float. It's a cool weightless feeling-just bobbing around like a cork. I watched the sun begin to set from the water & when I felt sufficiently exfoliated, retired to the pool deck with a huka & a cup of tea to watch the lights come on in Israel (which is across the water)

I am on vacation

And from this moment of relaxation, it only got better.

Next day in Jordan: Petra-one of the wonders of the world. It was incredible. It's a city in the rocks; where cave men dwelt. Jaw dropping. I must see all the wonders of the world!!

A picture can not do it justice, but I will post some soon for your enjoyment.

Jet set to NYC next. My first walk down 5th Ave was overwhelming. So many things, lights, people, familiar modern city smells, it took some moments alone to digest where I'd come from that morning! (8hr time difference) What made my eyes water most was just being free to walk the streets, say what I wanted and look at whatever, however I wanted. Freedom is priceless. If only 5th Avenue wa$ too...

After the most wonderful Thanksgiving yet with my family, a Bucs game, 2 photo ops with POTUS, SNOW, a Sunday morning well spent at CLC, family, friends, a lot of laughs! a missed flight allowing for 4 extra days vacation, shopping, all my favorite meals, more snow! and countless memories with a handsome beau in DC, I drug my heels and headed back to the desert.