Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Getting there was half the fun - well, not really

NOTE: In an effort to catch you up, I'll be entering details of my trip to Baghdad with Operation Bagdhad Pups in segments.

My trip to Baghdad on the surface was largely uneventful. i.e. I made it there and back in one piece. The most difficult parts were (a) packing (I never did get a recommended packing list - What DO you bring with you to Baghdad to escort some pets home?) and (b) the resulting bout with pneumonia I got when I came back - in part one of the reasons I haven't blogged in so long, the others, well I'll save that for another day. My mascots are the story today and the trip was no less than surreal.

Fennis, Tanner, Punisher, and kitty Simsim did not return with me as planned. I was all ready to meet my mascots. I had learned their names, sought out their stories, but it didn't happen that way. But not to worry; these guys were merely delayed by another week after my return. I came back with Typhoid, Anthrax (for real) and Julian.

I met up with Terri and another volunteer, Charlene, at Dulles Airport on Monday February 9. Getting to and waiting at the airport seemed all too routine and that alone was surreal. We spent a few hours waiting for our next flight while we enjoyed people watching. When the Emirates (our airline) flight attendants arrived it seemed they were readying for royalty. As we counted their numbers we bet that there were more of them than of us.

We departed at 11:00 PM EDT, flew almost 12 hours overnight, and landed in Dubai on Tuesday night. I was intrigued at being in another country of such different culture than my own, but sadly only got to see the inside of the airport terminal. After another five-hour layover there, we flew on to Kuwait landing at 2:00 AM on Wednesday, February 11. Being there seemed odd to me, but once I met our ride I realized I was safe. This country had been liberated. As I looked forward to seeing the city, my enthusiasm was dashed since the sandstorm that was building outside had infiltrated the airport terminal. I noticed the local people were all covering their faces. My chest began to tighten, moreso as I realized my asthma medication, which I rarely need, was running low. How did I forget to check my supply before I left home? I worried what I would do if my symptoms worsened. I'd have to cross that bridge when I got to it, so I decided to put it out of my mind. Not losing Terri and Charlene in the low visibility as we made our way to our car was more the pressing concern at the time.

Next: Who would stamp my passport in Baghdad?

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