Thursday, February 16, 2012

Apparently it only rains three times a year in Iraq…

…and yesterday was one of those three.  Or at least it was raining that morning and when we asked our driver how frequently this occurred he said simply: “three times.”  We interpreted this answer to represent annual number of days with precipitation but I suppose we could actually be witnessing the third recorded occurrence of rainfall in this desert region (further confirming my speculation that snow is nonexistent here outside of snow globes) 

…but I think it is a lot more likely that he just didn’t quite understand what we were asking. 

This happens frequently in these environments where two languages have to intersect for understanding to occur.  You ask a question, it gets translated, you get an answer, it gets translated back to you and it doesn’t quite make sense, or doesn’t quite answer your question…there are so many links in the chain where communication has the potential to break down that it is difficult to pinpoint where that break down may be occurring. 

Add to that a few extra languages and accents and it is amazing that anyone ever understands anything on these trips. 

Especially this trip; this is the most diverse group I have worked with to date.  We have several Americans and a British guy who live in the U.S., a Mexican from Monterey, a Korean woman from Australia, an Australian woman from Australia, a Dutch woman from Holland, two Belarusians, and one American who lives in Kenya.  We are dealing with native languages of English, Russian, Arabic, Korean, and Spanish and still somehow managing to communicate.  And for the most part we are doing a great job at teaching and understanding each other. 

But I’m still left to wonder exactly how often in rains here in Iraq.

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