Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Second Middle East Report

The honeymoon is over. This morning we woke up with no water. No toilet flushing. No showers. The rest of the team is still in bed so I haven’t been able to give them the “good” news. Our host warned us when we arrived that this could happen. The way it works here is that the municipal city water is turned on in this area once a week to fill all the water storage tanks at each house. If that water runs out, a water truck needs to be called in to recharge the house’s storage container. Our host noticed the water levels getting critically low before our arrival and put the call in to the office that dispatches the water trucks days ago, but the truck still hasn’t come. Four days and seven American water hogging visitors later, we’re out of water.

Every diesel truck I hear laboring up the hill we are staying on in our city I hope and pray is the water truck. We’ll have to go get some water in a bucket to flush the toilet this morning. We’ll probably wait till all of us use it once first.

Life is like that after a hurricane in South Florida; after a disaster.

Here? That’s just the way people live.

On the bright side, we are having an amazing time. Yesterday our team went on outings with young locals who are students at the language school where we are serving. Forrest and I visited the city’s oldest mosque. It is currently under renovation. A caretaker explained its rich history that dates back to the thirteenth century. This city is, of course, much older than that, but in the thirteenth century, this city became the ruling city in the region when the Arab empire was enjoying its greatest expansion in history. Justine and Shannon and I also visited the castle, also under renovation, of the king that spearheaded this region’s thirteenth century expansion and influence.

Local young women showed Luann, Shannon, and Justine the city center and shopping yesterday afternoon. Our outings were a cultural immersion packed with shopping in the souk (market), eating in local food, and riding around in cabs and buses shoulder to shoulder with locals. We’ve been greeted and welcomed warmly by every person we’ve met on the street.

Ed and Wes had a blast putting on a sports clinic for the children of the western workers here. They ran them through drills, calisthenics, and played “football” (not gridiron) with them. It’s a rare treat for these third culture kids to have this kind of attention and activity. Thanks to Wes and Ed, yesterday will be a day they won’t soon forget.

My wife will be glad to know that I had the student that I buddied up with take me to get a hair cut and a shave. The best shop in town is owned and run by Iraqi barbers. I visited this shop the last time I was here, but I was tempted to tell them I was German or French. How would they know the difference? My host at the time thought it would be novel if my straight razor wielding Iraqi barber knew I was an ex-Marine so he blew my cover.

When I arrived this time, the barber remembered me and was happy to get me into his chair. I thought he was a little too happy. As I laid my head back for the shave, internet video of a certain dictator facing hanging kept rolling through my brain. But I’m here to report I got the best shave, haircut, and all round barber shop experience of my life. And it only cost three bucks.


Anonymous said...

It's about time you got that shave! You had the grizzly Adams thing going. hey by the way I was waiting for this "Proof of Life". Glad to see everyone is doing well.

My Prayers are with you guys.

Brother in Christ.

Anonymous said...

I love missions trip bath room stories...

Anonymous said...

We run into some very un-American-style bathroom experiences on Compassion sponsors tours, as well, but not quite like what you've described.