Friday, July 15, 2005

Shomali 2

We took another trip to Shomali the other day. This time we went to the Mayor's house for lunch where we also met the Iraqi Police Chief, his Captain, and the local sheik. The food was much the same as the meal we had at the police station, except for the addition of fish and boiled lamb. The boiled lambs head was in a bowl directly in front of me. Since it's teeth and jawbone were exposed it was if it was smirking at me the whole time. I just smirked back and stuck with the chicken.

LTC Neal sitting in front of his portion of the meal

The amount of food was more than we could have possibly finished in one sitting. When we commented on the voluminous amount the Mayor told us that they know there is no way way we could even come close to eating it all. But providing more than one can possibly eat is a sign of respect and hospitality. I have found, if anything, the Arab culture is very gracious when it comes to how they treat their guests. If they invite you into their home it is as if you have become a part of their family.

CPT Walton with the Shomali Iraqi Police Chief who is speaking to one of our interperters (a.k.a. "terp")

After lunch we settled back into the sitting room where the conversation quickly turned to "what have you done for us lately", which is remarkably similar to the one we had the other day. We understand that there are important issues they need help with. For example: Shomali only has electricity for about one hour a day, and supposedly it has been this way since the first Gulf War (this project seemed particularly important to me as I was sitting there drenching with sweat). But one of the problems we contiually run into is that they ask for something different every week. CPT Walton vehemently tried to explain that if something is really, really imporant this week, then that same something should still be really, really important next week. In other words, let's try to focus on one thing at a time until we get it done. Unfortunaltey, there are too many chiefs, or in this case sheiks, that are trying to there pet project pressed through.

Wait a minute...I just realized that sounds a lot like something we have back in the U.S.

It's called congress.

LT Colicher, yours truly, and the Shomali Iraqi Police Captain

There was a breath of fresh air in the room, however. I made acquaintances with the Shomali Police Captain. He is much younger than the rest of the power brokers and seems to be more reasonable...and honorable. He is an intelligent man and the only reason we were able to talk on even a limited basis is because his English is much better than my Arabic. We spoke about our respective families and I showed him pictures of mine that I had stored on my PDA. He was more impressed with my PDA than the pictures and is anxious for the day when that type of technology is readily available in Iraq.

We had the following picture taken and I promised to bring him a copy. I already have it printed out and look forward to meeting him again. I only hope he realizes how important men like him are to the future of this country.

I think I'll make it a point to tell him the next time we meet.

See ya'


Two contestants in the Kojak & Erik Estrada look-a-like contest


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi son, Your Kojak @ Erik Estrada picture left me with a much needed laugh. Although you are a very handsome Kojak! Ditto to Jenn's last post. Love you, Momma

1:51 PM  
Blogger Junkpoet said...

Looks like you need some sun on that "Kojak" head of yours!

It's good to know you're eating well.

Keep up the great work!

6:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I told you they would have lambs head and not to eat the eyball.... and by the way-we have had the SAME discussion with the Mayor for the past 9 months!!

Please let your fans know that CPT Walton was successful, based on sweating our butts off in his living room, into talking the powers that be (i.e. the money holders)to help them with more generation power in the next several months. We are eagerly looking forward to this project as it will ease a lot of misery.

Now can you go back to work and get us a swimming pool like the Embassy has-its 125 out there.
LTC Neal

10:10 AM  
Blogger Al's Girl said...

Glad you made a new contact - I hope the train of progress will go a little quicker for you. Irregardless of what their pet project of the week is, electricity would be pretty high up on "any" list - lol.

Good luck w/ everything - and keep sticking to the chicken!!

4:29 PM  

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