…we checked on the children in the ICU this morning and got things planned out for the day for the local team. We are trying to be pretty hands-off at this point and let the locals do the bulk of the work because we will be leaving in a few days and they need to be able to take care of the children without us.
So, after we got everyone tucked in and had a little lunch, we went on a little outing.
We went to this major shrine here in Najaf…the kind of place that pilgrims come from all over the world to see. I can’t remember what it was called.
It was beautiful. Like the most beautiful piece of architecture that I have ever seen. We had to remove our shoes to go inside…and Christine and I also had to don abaya, the local customary covering for woman in public. It covers one’s head and entire body, apart from the face, and is pervasive here in Najaf as well as throughout Iraq. Lucky for us they had a few spares at the entrance of the shrine so we could be dressed appropriately to enter.
And like I said, the shrine was amazing. Solid gold walls, colorful tile mosaics, beautiful carpets, and mirrored ceilings. Spectacular.
When it came time to return our rental abaya, Christine and I each removed the black cloth from our bodies in the middle of the street and handed them back to the local officials. As we were doing so, an old woman passed by us and started yelling at us and waving her hands. Our guides and body guards all started laughing hysterically! We asked our interpreter what she had said and he sheepishly replied that she thought we were “very pretty ladies.”
Our interpreter ran up ahead of us and told her who we were and what we were doing here in Iraq. She seemed mildly placated…
…but I am left to wonder, what it was she actually said about us.