Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Sounds of Silence

Iraqi style:

Am still in Anbar and just went another day without hearing a single shot fired. Am out with a small group of Marines who live with a much larger group of Iraqis. I enjoy the Iraqi food more than the food at the dining facilities. Some of the Marines out here live in shipping containers. Their "toilet" is WAG bag. (Waste Alleviation and Gelling.) It's every bit as exciting as it sounds. Basically it's a little ziplock baggie -- one-time use only.

I was told that a chemical munition (artillery shell) was found within the last few days.
Today, went on a patrol with Iraqis and a couple of Marines and we talked with Iraqi villagers for a couple of hours. I got to talk with a man who was about 81. His hearing was not good, so I had to sit close. He said he worked for the British RAF here in about 1945-46. I asked him if the British treated him well and he said they treated him very well. Said he made the equivalent of about 25 cents per day but that was good money back then. There is, in fact, a British-Polish-Indian-Aussie-Kiwi cemetery nearby. (I visited and photographed many of the headstones some days ago.)

All the villagers we got to talk with were very friendly. Kids wanted their photos taken, that sort of thing. They were not asking for candy and that was nice. There was a train track nearby (looked to be in very good condition), and a locomotive turned over on its side, derailed. I asked a man what happened, and he said that about four years ago, during the war, an "Ali Baba" (thief) tried to steal the train but ran head-on into another train! He said the police caught the Ali Baba and he has no idea what happened after that.

Marines are getting along well with the locals. They wave a lot, and stop to talk. If the rest of Iraq looked like this, we could all come home!

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