Monday, February 14, 2011

Welcome to Baghdad…

…holy cow.  What a weird place. 

As I was sitting with the team in the airport, waiting for our visas and praying that our luggage made it, it occurred to me that I could be in any one of the countries I have traveled to over the last few years (back to that whole airport no-man’s-land idea).  Pretty basic passport control.  Straightforward.  Small.  Not glamorous…except for the marble floors….

But it’s not like any of the other countries I have traveled to. 

It was sort of hard to wrap my head around that fact…and still is in fact.

Even while traveling in our eight-car convoy, going through check points (never seen so many Kalashnikovs off the big screen…but then again…why would I?) it seemed surreal.   

Oh, wait…it IS surreal.

Empty roads.  Giant concrete barriers along the edge of the highway lined up top with what I am assuming to be loops and loops of razor wire.  Tanks…lots of them actually.  Black smoke in the distance. 

And the light was funny…funny odd.  A weird bluish haze hangs over everything.  But all the light and from the clear sky seems to wash out the color.

But then again, I am not sure that there really is much color.  Concrete and anemic looking palm trees don’t offer much of a brilliant palate. 

Then we arrived at our little welcome brunch in this strangely opulent building that I believe was once Saddam Hussein’s palace.  Could have that detail wrong though.  Marble floors.  Crystal chandeliers.  Ornate plasterwork on ceilings.  Gilded Victorian couches and chairs.  And a decadent breakfast waiting for us.  Such an odd contrast to the world outside the doors.   

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