At dusk last night I stood on the roof of our building, looking around, still trying to process this idea: this is Iraq. June 6 will mark our eighth month in theater, and for all that it’s sometimes still hard for me to believe I’m here. Being at Justice hasn’t helped, where I basically never leave the area of the building that we call home; most of our efforts are to make the environment as home-like as possible, so it’s easy to forget it’s Mesopotamia and not Minneapolis.
Even so, there are a lot more bats here than in the Twin Cities – it wasn’t even dark and the sky was abuzz with them, flitting about, no doubt finding plenty of food. Mosquitos are plentiful here as well, and they seem to be perpetually pissed off: no buzzing around the ear, no chance to see them coming. They just pile in on any exposed flesh and get away, usually without you feeling a thing – until later, of course, when you discover huge itching welts all over your legs and arms.
The legendary heat is starting to make itself known; it hasn’t quite gotten to 187 degrees yet but it’s close. The Pontiff describes the it as “hot on the eyeballs” and that’s exactly right – the air is like a hot, dry towel in your face that you can’t get rid of. It’s even hot at night, as the tortured earth radiates the day’s absorbed heat into the sky until about 0400 or so, when it just starts cooling down in time for the bloody sun to come up again.