Life in Basra on the FOB (that is forward operating base) is a very isolated and a little bit like being in jail. Most people who aren’t PSDs, personal security details, either spend most of their time in their hutch or in their office, because right now it is too hot to be outside. When you do go outside on the B & B there is no one around at all. The main time you see people is at mealtimes. It is possible to go an entire day without seeing another soul.
Last week I got off the FOB twice and into the Basra office. The first trip was to train our newest employee on reporting. I spent the night and in the morning the shower wasn’t working so I had to lay down in the bathtub and try and get clean with the trickle that was coming out. The second time was to meet with the vice president of Operations who was visiting from Portland, Oregon, we were talking about where I’m going next. Most likely the Congo or Sudan. It’s not like Mercy Corps works in really fun places.
At the beginning of August I went to Oxford for a training on building the capacity of NGOs. I was supposed to return to Basra on Monday, August 10, however, I was in Kuwait and the only way to get to Basra from Kuwait is Skylink and I was stuck in Kuwait as they canceled flight after flight. It turns out the Iraqi government says that Skylink owes them 15 million in back taxes. I ended up having to fly to Amman, stay the night there and fly into Basra from there. To date they haven’t had any flights to Kuwait, but I’m hoping it is resolved this week so I can fly out of here for my home leave. I’m scheduled to fly Skylink on Sept. 3. Keep your fingers crossed.
Recently we have some new comers to the B & B Jacqueline from Australia who is a lawyer working on oil and natural gas and Shaun who is with RTI International and working on local governance. We occasionally get together to hang out. I also hang out with Kim and Jen who I met at church they are with the Red Bull National Guard and I usually meet up with them once a week for lunch or dinner, church or something.
We continue to have IDF incoming direct fire, the last round was on Monday the 17th, the alarm didn’t even go off, but it hit close enough to shake my hutch. The good news is I’ve moved and I’m now under hard cover so I no longer have to run for the bunker, because I have cement over my head and I’m surrounded by Hescos filled with sand. They look a little bit like those round bales of hay.
So that is about it for life in Basra right now.