Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Adventure Begins (again)

Did I tell you my trip to Germany was the greatest? I have to admit, that although having regular jobs has been outside my zone, this paid vacation stuff can be pretty darn nice! I’ve never had a vacation like this before, for two weeks. I enjoyed it thoroughly and for once on a vacation, hardly touched a car. I did help push a dead Mercedes out of traffic, belonging to a woman from India and her two girls. My access to resources was too limited to do much else. But I would count that simply as exercise. And that was in Dubai on my way back.

It is a complicated process to leave here. I went first to Mosul, then Baghdad, Dubai, and finally Frankfurt, a path and process that takes over two days. In Frankfurt I was blessed with a place to stay with a Mormon friend named Josef I had contacted over the internet and stayed there for a few days. Then to the South, namely Garmisch-Partenkirchen. There I found a humble room in a type of house that the citizens in that area often rent in the fashion of a youth hostile. A bed, sink, desk, and blankets for a small fee. It was perfect.

When I woke up the second morning in Frankfurt, fresh snow had fallen all night. In Garmisch, it added to the huge amount already fallen. The southern mountains (alps) have not only had an unusually good season for snow, but had added a meter the weekend before I arrived! Although I rendered some thanks to Heaven, it felt redundant because I was already there. I rented a snowboard and carved and couldn’t stop smiling. Finally, I returned for a night in Frankfurt, started to help someone in the International ward move Saturday Morning, and caught my flight around lunchtime.

But first came the flight out of Iraq. I can’t believe how much greener (and it still is not all that green) it was from when I flew in for the first time last fall. And there is a lot of water laying in the low spots. And an amazing row of snow-capped mountains to the Northeast. It will probably all change back to that oven-blasted sandscape soon with the approach of Summer, but for now the land looked quite different.

Then there was the stay in Baghdad. The food was so much better !!! I was so happy. I’d forgotten what a limited menu we have here in Kirkuk. And the shopping, the PX, had so many more choices. By no means a Walmart, but again, compared to what we can find in Kirkuk…wow. Then to Dubai.

Dubai is part of the Arab Emirates, and seemed more like small and not so distinct state, rather than a country. East and across a small ocean from Kuwait, it is a vacation destination. We were treated to catered buffet-style dinners and rooms for the night. There are unique buildings and lots of ocean-front property. They even drop huge amounts of sand in the ocean to create islands in the shape of palm trees, for example. It was actually on the return stay that I got out into the place.

I was determined, perhaps with a California frame of mind, to Reach the Beach. I covered 7 or 8 miles on foot to get there and back, but it was worth it! It was a beautiful day, perfect temperature. I walked through parts of town that had influences from India and also China. I saw many a sheik jr. driving nice autos, it seems the Toyota Landcruiser or Jeep Grand Cherokees with Limo tint were some of the favorite vehicles. I was probably the only guy without black, black hair and dark skin. And jeans and a t-shirt. Probably the only one even thinking about wearing shorts. And very, very few women on the streets. It seemed like a male planet. With its fancy shops and high foreign population, it was like the Beverly Hills of India.
And that is the first leg of the trip….more about Germany soon, Ernie

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