Hey all, had a good time of it today.
We were out riding all over the province. We stayed lost most of the day - it was great! We got lost first, and stayed lost a great long while at that, out by the Euphrates river.
You cannot believe the difference between the desert away from the river and the tropical zone next to the river. The entire area is irrigated, with big ditches and canals running all over the place. There are little dams all over the fields and it looks almost like a bunch of Vietnam rice patties.
The Euphrates river branches out, everywhere, and it is little rivers and lakes and canals and what even looks like Louisiana bayous as far as the eye can see. We went through this one village that was straddled right on one of these canals and it looked just like the river walk in San Antonio, Texas. What with all these little home-made wood bridges crossing the water.
I love it the most there away from town and down by the river or way out in the country by all the villages. The people are the most colorful down there.
As we were riding I noticed these patty-shaped things stacked in piles, every here and there: on closer inspection I found that they were dried manure, and used for fuel to make fires. When by the canal in that village I saw this fellow leading - no dragging - this goat by the ear, walking him down the road. That goat has - well, had - no idea!
I saw this poor goat tied to a tree one time with all his brothers and sisters hung in a tree right next to him with all their clothes off, and a butcher knife sticking in the tree!
I picked some dates today, that grow all in the palm trees. They are yellow-gold in color, and grow in huge batches, and nearly fill the top of the trees. Saw an Iraqi who was skinnied up the tree and tied on by a rope picking the fruit/nuts. They are very sweet and I saw them in town a while back and thought they were weird looking olives, as they let them sit, like bananas, and ripen til they are brown in color.
Down in that village by the river we stopped and I found a neat looking bottle on the ground and took this with me, and there were two young sisters standing side by side in dresses that were gold to yellow in color, and they blended in with all the date trees just perfect. You could have set them in the top of the palm trees and never seen them.
The canals and irrigation ditches are everywhere. I had to walk down to one and wash my hands, just to get some of the water on me. Well, we loaded up and were leaving and I noticed this dead rotten cow right there in the water I just washed my hands in - I knew I had been smelling something. I then washed them in cooler water.
We went to another town, which is also by the river. As we were pulling in I noticed this black veiled Iraqi woman who had her lower face covered but left her eyes and upper face uncovered. She was quite pretty.
We drove down only a little from her and there was this group of Iraqi police in the road and this short little fellow just grabbed hold of his crotch and shook it around for a little bit, and leaned back like he was real cool, or something. I had to laugh as the cat wasn't no taller than four foot five, and if he were American he would probably be right upset about the fact he had gone his entire life and yet had never been able to ride all the rides at the fair.
There was some boys there throwing rocks at each other and fighting. One of the elders came in and broke them up. I have seen one of these kids before, in our aid station, with his eye put out for good because of all this rock throwing.
Then we went down by the river again, and stopped. There was a group of young men out by the river where I got out. They came up to me and got to talking to me and one of them spoke broken English. No lie ya'll: he asked to marry my sister so she could take him to the U.S. to live. I had to explain, the best I could, that my sister is married. Then he said, alright, you marry my sister. Well, I spent the next five minutes trying to figure out from his broken English how old his sister was, as I think it only fair to know how old the woman is that I am going to marry.
They were cheering us with thumbs up again too, wherever we went. And the grass and green by the river, where all the irrigation is being done is incredible: it is waist high and just as green as green can be. The entire region is lush, and this is my best description.
This country has great potential, great land for agriculture, oil out the ears, and archeological sites equal to Egypt's and Israel's. Westerners would pour in here to see the land of Sumer, where civilization began, and Babylon, further north, and Ninevah, the land of Assyria, way up north, which is where Jonah went to preach after being puked up by that fish.
And the donkeys were all over the place. It reminded me when I went with the scouts and we stopped at Hilla, which is modern Babylon. I got out and heard this braying, "heeeehaaaaaaa, heeeeeehaaaaaa!' But couldn't see a thing. Then I noticed, across the road, the top tip of the two donkey ears, as the donkey was standing down in a ditch, by the road, just a-braying. Was really a funny sight, and the tip of the ears was all I ever saw of that donkey.
It was there that I had to point my weapon at an oncoming car, two times, as they were getting too close, and the people there are not our friends. This is the only time, thus far, that I have pointed my gun at anybody - thankfully.
Well ya'll, was laying it out to you while it was still fresh.
Until next time: Later.
If you would like to send some hard candy to Richard for him to hand out please email me.
Sara of Soldiers' Angels USA and "her" soldier Richard from Iraq