Monday, December 15, 2008

Monday Update

President Bush made a surprise visit to Iraq yesterday. I found out about it from looking at the CNN web site in early afternoon. Apparently he came by the Embassy last evening, as the security forces locked down the facility. I stayed here in the office and avoided the trouble, but some people were caught in their vehicles for several hours.

I'm still fighting jet lag from my trip, but it isn't nearly as bad as it was when I first arrived. My sleep schedule is more or less on the right track. I hit the rack the other night and woke up refreshed and raring to go ... until I saw that the clock by my bed said it was 1:30. I was able to get back to sleep with the aid of a Melatonin tablet. These things seem to work pretty well for me ... since they're a natural chemical, they're a lot better for the body than some prescription sleeping pills.

The weather here is very cool: around 30 in the morning and around 60 in the afternoon. Jacket weather. But it's still very sunny and as long as the wind's not blowing, it's pleasant outside. I went for a jog at the new Embassy compound yesterday and it wasn't bad at all. However, it seemed like everywhere I tried to go, there was something blocking my way. Cranes were putting up T-walls, roads were blocked off, some truck was delivering new containers of supplies. Very annoying to me, the jogger. But it's all part of the effort to get everybody out of the old Palace and into their new offices by the end of the year.

Since the 2003 invasion, the Republican Palace has been first the headquarters for the American effort in Iraq and then the official U.S. Embassy. Our new Embassy is about a mile west of the Palace. Offices are closing up in the old Palace left and right and moving to the new Embassy, to Union III (which is a base right across the street from the Embassy), or out to Victory Base at the airport. So with the office moves and with many people heading out on Christmas leave, this place is rapidly turning into a ghost town. It's eerie to be walking through a formerly bustling place (like the Green Bean coffee shop) and see nobody in there. It's like walking through Grand Central Station and seeing only five people. We can walk into the palace DFAC for dinner and have a choice of seating, where a month ago, we'd have been fighting for a spot. A few more weeks, though, and almost everybody will be gone, the DFAC will be closed, and the only ones left will be the construction crews who will prepare the place to be turned back over to the Iraqis.

And does anybody besides me see the irony in the fact that the U.S. Embassy has been in the "Republican" Palace for the past five years?

1 comment:

Sally said...

always good to check in and read your blog Skip. Thanks
Sally Chupick