We started the month by getting a visit from the Iraqi Air Force as they were practicing to develop a Medevac (air medical evacuation) system of their own. They landed on our Landing Zone to help us all get familiar with their equipment - as it hasn't been sen in the states for a very long time. The smaller helicopter (Huey) was built 10 years before I was born and had flown in the Vietnam War. The larger MI-17 from the Ukraine apparently spent some time fighting with the Iranians in the 1980's. Who knows, maybe it will see some time against the Iranian's again.
As has been in the news, things have calmed down substantially in the war. The number of war wounded is a fraction of what it was just a few weeks ago - the lowest since we have been here. That combined with the decreased rocket and mortar attacks is truly a godsend. It is almost like practicing emergency medicine back in the states - except for the part of having to take a weapon into the dining hall. (more like practicing medicine in Texas, then). So of course, we have been working hard to find things that occupy our time. Scrabble is one... and it gives us a chance to pretend we are smart. Then of course, there is the invasion of the blue stuff...
The hospital had a 'Design your litter' contest as part of Nurse's week (no, they didn't have a doctors's week). The ER won by a landslide with this creation by some of our medics made out of cardboard. Maybe we do have too much free time on our hands.
One of the local NGO's had a party recently at one of the local FOBs. I am still not one hundred percent sure why I was invited, but I was glad that I did. Basically they had rented out a coffee shop and had brought in a bunch of local Iraqi musicians, had tons of local food. Most of the employees of the NGO are Iraqi and it was one of the few opportunities they have had to relax, celebrate, and enjoy life other than the daily grind that is here. There was a fair amount of dancing (not by me) and people just having a good time. It was very refreshing to see. We get very jaded in the hospital, being that pretty much every local national that we see or meet is due to some catastrophe while they were trying to kill someone or someone was trying to kill them. It is easy to forget that most of the Iraqi's want normal lives, free of violence, really not all that different than ourselves. It is easy to get the impression that there is no happiness or joy in this country. It was great to see.
In the meantime, I have apparently become (in)famous... (http://www.sundayherald.com/life/people/display.var.2310466.0.0.php), as a Scottish reporter was hanging out in the hospital and with our Medevac colleagues for a few days and quoted me completely out of context. Oh well, I guess it could have been worse. It is my one moment in the spotlight, I guess - even if it is over in the UK. (maybe you know him Stacie/Luke?)
And of course, back home I got the honor of being an uncle again and a godfather as my brother Brett and his wife Karin brought Caleb Anders Cohen into the world. No pictures yet as Brett is notoriously bad at sending out pictures. Maybe next month?
Until then... the girls back home are growing like weeds. Amy is doing her best to keep sane and to keep the girls from killing each other or the dog. Sara continues to be quite the chatterbox - telling some pretty impresive stories for a three year old. Naomi is not too far behind, practicing telling Amy what to do.
Hope you are all well...