Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Into Baghdad

I left North Carolina in August 2003 for Amman, Jordan. I wan't sure what to expect.

We flew commercial flight on Royal Jordanian Airlines into Jordan and spent the night in a nice enough hotel close to the local airport.

Next morning at 5am we were taken to the local airport in Jordan to board a twin prop plane for Baghdad.

They stamped my passport as exiting Jordan. Never stamped it coming into Iraq. Only 2 weeks later when I returned to Jordan they marked me with re-entry. So basically, there are two weeks on my passport for which I was unaccounted.

I was a little aprehensive, but knew I was in - but in.

There was a family of 3 Christian missionaries on the plane with me and one other passanger - plus 2 pilots. Total of 7 and it was crowded. The little 8 year old girl was named Kelsey.

The flight was 3 hours of flying with destination Baghdad International Airport. Everything at the airport was at a stand still. You could see that the Iraqi Airlines had been grounded for quite some time. There was no traffic within what seemed like miles around the area.

We could see Saddam's water palace - a great big water hole in the desert all around.

This is really the first time I started to feel amazment at the extreme lifestyle Saddam lived while you could plainly see the immediate area around his castle - was squalor.

I didn't have too much time to ponder anything at that moment actually, because we were landing.

The pilot told us that we would be coming in on a corkscrew landing into Baghdad. He told us to hang on and it would be over very quickly, but it would be uncomfortable from the time we started the dive until we hit the tarmac.

Kelsey was sitting on my left across the aisle. She took my hand when we started to dive. We basically went straight down and in an honest-to-God corkscrew. I looked at Kelsey and she was starting to freak a little - and quite frankly, I was too.

The plane was loud, the internal pressure in our heads was immense, and it almost seemed as if we were falling out of the sky.

I screamed at Kelsey "roller coaster, go for it!" We both smiled and threw our hands up. Made the crazy moment of fear pass more easily.

When we landed on the tarmac, we had to remain on the plane until they clear us to approach airport facilites. This would not have been so taxing, however it was 130 degrees fahrenhiet and we had no air conditioning in the plane. But part of the adventure , right.

I had a water bottle on the plane with me and before we landed I drank it down to about 1/2 and put the cap back on it. While we sat on the plane, I reached for my water bottle.

It was completely crushed and all the water was gone out of it. The pressure of the landing dive had literally emptied my water bottle and crushed it. No wonder my head felt like it did.

We waited in the airport military area as all the other parts of the airport were closed. When they had refueled and check our passports, we reboarded for Hawler, Kurdistan.

I slept mostly on the plane to Hawler, and I awakened to the pilot telling us that we were approaching Hawler International Airport. Looking out of the small window, I could not see what he was talking about.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Kurdistan: The Other Iraq

I will post here some of my experiences since August 2003 when I began living and working in Hawler, Kurdistan, Iraq.

Maybe it doesn't seem too exciting, except I am a simple, southern woman from North Carolina that gave up my entire life in the USA to go help the people of Kurdistan.

This all began through a series of fortunate events that led me to understand more about the people we are fighting and the people we are freeing from centuries of oppression under tyranny.

I welcome ALL comments and questions, as this is an open and honest exchange of information. There is no political agenda here - only the facts of the things I have seen.

I will put up my first days posts when I am finished editing for my journal. More later today.

Enjoy and respond!