Sunday, July 6, 2008
Anyway, I think the blood test will be tomorrow, but I took care of the photos today. Overall, I suppose I'm about as vain as the average American woman when it comes to official document photos. Meaning, if I'm going to be forced to look at it for the next decade, I'd prefer a good picture, but overall I just don't care that much. So, one of the drivers and I drove over to the local photo shop to get some photos - no bigee. When I walked into the photo shop I was immediately surrounded by pictures of two and three-year-olds wearing bizarre outfits with non-matching backgrounds. For example, a two year old girl wearing a head headscarf with gold coins dangling from the edges framing her chubby face with a fanciful forest scene in the background. Now, I was just in for passport photos, but its enough to make even the least vain person worry...
So, with some trepidation I was escorted downstairs to the photo room. The photographer offered me a mirror to adjust my appearance, and seemed shocked when I passed on his offer. So, he sat me down, adjusted his lighting in a very precise manner, adjusted the angle of the photo and took his picture.
Okay, done - right?
Not at all. Next came 15 minutes of airbrushing and photoshopping the pic. I was guided to a seat next to the photographer, hereafter refered to as 'The Arteest' while he removed every freckle, blemish and wrinkle he could find. He even photoshopped out my dimple. Ok, ok, it's a chicken pox scar, but it looks like a dimple... The best part was when he decided he liked my left eye more than my right eye, so he copied and pasted over the offending eye. Then he reversed the eye so that it was shaped the right way. At this point, I had the opportunity to see what i would would like if I was cross-eyed.
The Arteest was amazingly quick with his adjustments. Meanwhile, the driver joined us and was giving advice on how much to lighten the color of my eyes, etc... At the end, the Arteest showed me the before and after pics. Horrifying. I'm never going outside without airbrushing again. The driver insisted that I get 4x6 pics for my family, so that they could see just how pretty I can be...
Stay tuned - stories about blood testing in Kurdistan will soon follow.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The last few days have been rough. I’ve been working a lot, even for me, and I’ve had some gender/age/ethnic issues with one of the local staff members. I’m not sure which it is, or maybe it’s a combination of all three, but it was uncomfortable to say the least.
Now, I’m sitting on the patio with a drink. It’s cooled off (it’s been in the 90s here) and there’s enough of a breeze to blow the bugs away. It’s super dusty here, but our courtyard is full ripe fruit trees. There are vines wound into the trees that are literally dripping with grapes. It’s easy to imagine
Although the situation is quiet here now,
Some of my colleagues and I drove up the surrounding mountains a few weekends ago. From that high, I could see
I was invited to a staff picnic on Saturday, but was told that I’m not allowed to go because of security. I did, however, manager to wiggle my way into a trip to
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Within my first week of being in
The drive was beautiful – mountains that looked like wind swept sand dunes on both sides and a river running beside the road most of the way. We drove through some small towns, or maybe villages would be a better word. They reminded me of
As we drove along the villages dropped off and there was nothing but checkpoints, mountains, the river playing hide-and-seek and white Nissan pick-up trucks. They’re everywhere. Seriously – you’ll see three or four of them together on the road – like little herds of wild Nissans, traveling together for protection.
The checkpoints were uneventful; we were waved through most of them. When I got out of the car at our first destination, it was hot. Much hotter than it had been up north. I visited two offices, then caught a ride with a driver who only speaks Arabic, which was fun. We talked about music, his mothers dolma (stuffed grape leaves) and the economy in the
It was a bit of a frantic trip because we can’t travel after dark, so down and back with two office visits in between was a lot. The next time I go down, I’ll stay overnight, and the driver has promised to bring me some of his mother’s famed dolma…
Saturday, June 14, 2008
I found out I was coming to
It’s funny, even in
Less than a day in Amman, which included a quick debrief with the Iraq country director and a visit to the colleague who’d lost a toe to diabetes and been medivaced out of Iraq a few weeks before…then a plane to Northern Iraq. I was sitting on the plane, repeating to myself, “Holy Shit, I’m going to
Now, I’m not insane. I’d heard a lot about the part of
At this point I’ve been here for about 10 days, and aside from 2 meals in restaurants, one trip to the mountains nearby and one trip to an office a couple hours south of where I am staying I’ve been on the same street, just doing the office – home – office routine. Not exactly a ringing endorsement to keep reading, i realize, but I'll write about my trip south in my next entry. I will be traveling a bit while I'm here, so stay posted...pics will come eventually.