OK, this is probably the last in the razor wire series.
I thought I’d get a little theme going here with the razor wire. This razor wire sunset was captured at the Basra Air Station in southern Iraq in October of 2006.
I love this scene. It’s almost like the spiky weed stuff is trying to show the razor wire how it’s done. “No, no, no,” says the spiky weed stuff, “You’re doing it wrong. It’s like THIS!” Nature is so cool.
One of the things I liked about my time in Baghdad was that we lived and worked in a hotel and had a bird’s-eye view of day-to-day life in Baghdad. We could see people driving to work and going to worship at the mosque across Firdos Square. We could see fishing boats on the Tigris River and people filling up at the petrol station and selling cigarettes from little carts on the sidewalks. We could watch kids playing soccer in a dirt field along the river and men playing tennis on the clay courts at the sports club. It was nice to have a glimpse into everyday life in Baghdad, something that you rarely saw on the news. Once I moved up north to Kirkuk, we lived at ground level and the only “real life” stuff I saw was from an armored vehicle zooming by at 80mph during my regular trips “outside the wire.”
In honor of newly crowned Best Picture “The Hurt Locker,” about an EOD team in Iraq and primarily in Baghdad, today I shall post a few street-level photos of Baghdad that I took during my time working there between April and November of 2004.
All of these photos were taken from the back seat of an armored vehicle zooming as quickly as possible through the perilous streets of Baghdad. The only time we left the relative safety of our hotel compound was for meetings in the Green Zone or to make a made dash down the exceedingly dangerous BIAP Road on the way to the airport. These trips were always an adventure.
Correction: The third photo was taken while walking to the Royal Jordanian Airlines office around the corner from our hotel but still within the hotel complex. Trying to make reservations with them for the flight from Baghdad to Amman, Jordan and back was always an adventure too.
This is by far my favorite of the not-very-many flora photos I took while in Iraq:
Because I have no idea what they’re really called, I always thought of them as “purple weed balls.” Here’s what they look like in their various stages of purpleness:
If anyone out there knows what they’re really called, please let me know.
I recently promised bee eaters… bee eaters you shall have.
As I mentioned previously, there wasn’t a whole ton of natural beauty to be found in Iraq, at least not in the parts I was seeing. (Incidentally, the far northern part of Iraq is actually quite lovely – I’ve seen some wonderful pictures – so if you ever plan on vacationing there, you might think about sticking to the northern areas). One day, as I was riding around on the military base that was my home for a couple of years, I caught a fleeting glimpse of a bird that had the most incredibly beautiful colors, like a parrot, but I knew very well that there weren’t any parrots in Iraq. A perusal of the internet revealed that the bird in question was a European bee eater (Merops apiaster). About a year later, I captured these photos of European bee eaters near our camp:
I like birds almost as much as I like rocks so will inevitably be posting bird photos here from time to time. I really need a longer lens to get REALLY good bird photos, though, like one of THESE. If you’d care to contribute to the “Help Laurie Buy a Ridiculously Long and Expensive Lens So She Can Take Better Bird Photos Fund,” let me know.
An interesting (though perhaps only to me) sidenote: While I was looking on the web for information about European bee eaters (like… they can eat hundreds of bees a day and are seen as pests by beekeepers), I found a website that is using the second bee eater photo above without permission or credit. I might actually be flattered if the person who “borrowed” the photo hadn’t gone to the trouble of cropping the credit OUT of the original photo. Interesting. I’ll have to do something about that. And that just gave me fodder for a future blog post.
See the streaky bits? Those are called crepuscular rays. Doesn’t that have such a nice ring to it? Crepuscular (kri-ˈpəs-kyə-lər – adjective - of, relating to, or resembling twilight). I just love saying it. Try it out at your next social gathering… “Hey, did you catch those crepuscular rays last night?” People will be impressed… trust me. There are also anticrepuscular rays, which are similar but they appear opposite from where the sun is, at the antisolar point. I’ve never seen anticrepuscular rays, but I’d like to. (You’ll find out eventually that I am a sucker for sunrises, sunsets and other sky-related phenomena).
The crepuscular ray photo was taken in Kirkuk, Iraq. As you may or may not know, I worked as a civilian contractor in Iraq from April of 2004 through October of 2006, much of that time being spent in Kirkuk. Generally, the skies provided the only splashes of natural beauty in an otherwise dusty brown world. Well, there were also the European bee eaters, but I’ll share that photo another day. In the meantime, here’s another Kirkuk crepuscular ray pic: