Thursday, January 28, 2010


Gerit drove me to the airport in exchange for my paying for her car repairs. Doesn’t come close to the amount but she was in bad shape. good flight. plane was maybe half full baggage came quicklyride was in the reception area with sign. name spelled correctly and in the right order. i'm almost always may melissa or mai melisa or some variationhotel is pretty nice gotta go check out the neighborhood now.

just back from a walk, which started as a jog. it's hot here. even at 6am
slept a lot last night. feeling almost normal today.
lunch with my client today.

Sunday. Got up early today and walked/jogged through the hot morning air. 6am.
Really always hot.

Worked for a while then had lunch with the exec director and deputy director of INDEPTH, joined later by the Communications person. Talapia, fries, veggies. Sounds normal although it was the full fish with eyes.

Worked in the afternoon then went for another walk down to the market I found on Sunday. It's very first world and seems to be where the white expats shop. And today there is clearly some major soccer happening and the store (and even many little "shop/huts" along the way) had the game playing on the TVs.
I took photos and found people very open to having their pictures taken. Quite a contrast to Morocco where few people agreed. Here some people asked to have their photos taken.

I took a photo of a beautiful young woman with a square box (more than a foot square) on her head. In it were some round balls of dough. I bought one. Turns out to be very much like fasnaughts (sans powdered sugar). After I turned off the tar road (they call it that) to where my hotel is, I walked past a restaurant of sorts. They advertise sports but won't show the American football game tonight. I'm out of luck.

Then I went to snap photos of 4 little boys asking me to come visit. Many people say hello. I thought that was a village thing. But they do it here too. Often they yell "obruni" which means "white person" or maybe "white woman." Not clear if there is gender involved or simply the lack of color. I’ve read that they’re not so fond of albinos here. So I hope it’s more the adoration of anglo-Americans and not the “truly pondering how I’m gonna kill you, albino” with which they greet me.

Further up that same dirt road were 2 teen boys riding tandem on a bike made for one. One holding the handlebars, the other a saw and hammer. The saw was facing out…which I suppose is the better direction.

Well, it’s going to be a boatload of work so I better get back to it. Saving myself SO much time not having to watch the games today.

Up and jogged down to the A&C, past the gym, then headed back. Quickly showered and hit the breakfast buffet. Beautiful fruit.

I walked for a while then ended up at the restaurant on the parallel street. Great prices!
And even the big beers are 2 cedis (so $1.50) I asked for one and the waitress seemed confused. She asked me if I “take alcohol” which I readily agreed with.
My waitress was Cynthia. Her cousin is studying to be a doctor. Another is in Canada studying business. Cynthia wants to studying economics. She sat a while with me while the food cooked. I was the only one there.
Then 2 young men came and sat by me. I gave the rest of my beer to one.
The one was named Prince, but he never heard of Prince (the singer) who oddly enough was on TV on Tuesday night (from the 80s). The other had a tougher name but called himself Gentle.


Woke up late because I couldn’t sleep. Shower and breakfast…a bit delayed as no food was out for the buffet. 3 white people there today. French.

Worked 8:30 to 6+ . Had a break for about 40 minutes and walked back to eat rice cakes and leftovers. Took the flip back and taped my commute.

Done and back to the hotel. Quickly dressed and left for a walk around 6:35.
Walked around for an hour in nearly pitch dark with little kids yelling "obruni" at me. Went down to the other hotel I noticed on Sunday and checked out the rooms. They have a pool. Place overall doesn’t seem as nice though. Singles are cheaper but are tiny.

During this walk I heard this loud crying noise and looked over. A young woman, not too far from me, was pulling chicken feathers out of a still-living (but not for long) chicken she was holding in her right hand. I didn't hang out till his ultimate end. Oh gosh. Ghana.

I stopped by and watched a little of a Pentecostal service. Two men came over and asked me to join them. People here often say "welcome" and they did as well. It's so nice.
I walked down to the right on the main street then left past what seemed an endless line of merchants still offering their wares, hassle-free, even in the pitch black—broken only by headlights. Big giant ravines line the road and there are major holes in the shattered tar of the road. Accident waiting to happen. I was walking. Running way too risky. Plus I was dripping sweat by then.

Went to that same restaurant. Ordered dry fish and ground nut soup. Young man and different waitress—Maizie—were there. Again, no customers. I paid and she said “god bless you” I came back and they had given me God knows what. Didn’t appear to be fish. The creature was stuck in the middle of my ground nut soup in a plastic bag…so pretty hard to figure out how to eat. I extricated it and ate the soup. Very worried about my stomach now.

Worked and emailed all night. And SO weirdly there was a set of music videos of Prince on TV. Really strange…Cosmic. I'm sure Lauren would say it's virtual creation.

Up late, lousy sleep night. Decided to jog/walk anyway and explore a new area and go in late.

It rained. After short lunch break of cooked plantains from girl on the street (wrapped in University of Ghana test paper and cost of 1 cedis/75 cents) I noticed ominous looking clouds. It’s the dry season so they shouldn’t be here.

Full day at work…till after 7:00. Lots of electrical outages so AC came and went too. Part of day electricity out completely. Sometimes they kick in the generator. So having a laptop is a good thing.
Changed and walked to the front desk. Asked about getting to the beach and nice young man at desk offered to walk me around the beach on Saturday. He works late so will bring me back with him. Sounded like a great offer! Seems safe enough, as he works at the hotel and would be out of a job if he acted up.

I then headed to my favorite (even after terrifying meal last night) restaurant to see Cynthia. She was there and told me that Prince, from Monday night, had come by looking for me. I was glad to have missed that. I ordered and sat down to edit under a flashlight while waiting for my food. Ordered a Strawberry Cardinal, one of these odd liqueurs they sell for .50 cedis. Tiny amount and super sweet. Interesting.
Unfortunately Prince came back and sat down with me. Told me he couldn’t stop thinking about me. It’s been a while since I had a proposal of marriage so that was fun. . He's gotta be in his early 20s. Professed his love for me. Said he always prayed for god to bring him a while woman (obruni) so he's sure I'm it. Stares across the table at me and tells me I'm beautiful. Actually THAT I could get used to.I wanted to tell him I'm old enough to Easily be his mother. I mean really easily. Wouldn't even have been a teen mom. This is Prince and he's never even heard of the artist formerly known as. My gosh. He's a footballer. Plays for the Red Bull team in Ghana. Ghana has like 100 football teams. He's a defensive player. We have TONS in commonThursday

Slept a bit. Still not great. Tried to turn the AM radio on to serve as a sound machine. Little luck.
Walk mostly. To another part of town and past a nice-ish hotel.

Now usual routine of great fruit at breakfast buffet. Arrived 8:20. Worked to clean up document for Osman to talk about what I think they could/should be doing. We met for 90 minutes starting at 2:30. Exhausting for all of us.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What better time to blog

With Melissa in Africa and so much going on, what better time to share via blog?

Here is her update ::::

good trip. plane was maybe half fullbaggage came quicklyride was in the reception area with sign. name spelled correctly and in the right order. i'm almost always may melissa or mai melisa or some variationhotel is pretty nice gotta go check out the neighborhood now.

Monday, February 27, 2006

link this to the website?

what is the thinking here/there/wherever?

s - a - m

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Germany is Sweet!!!

Hello All,

after four plus months in the AOR, I'm finally out. I landed in Germany yesterday. It was drizzily and overcast but after dealing with a never ending summer and continous sunshine, the cooler temps and clouds were WELCOME! Most of you know I love the Fall, so seeing green trees, rolling mountains, and changing leaves, I'm really digging Germany. It really is a lot like PA and I recommend everyone visit at least once in their lifetime.

Shortly after I arrived, a paralegal from the Ramstein Base Legal Office picked me up. We turned in my weapons (took all of two minutes) then went to a little festival in Ramstein Village. I tasted my first beer in over 4 months and it just added another reason why I want to come to Germany. The festival wasn't packed but the sun came out and it looked beautiful. I ended up sleeping most of the day away but that's OK, not much else for me to do. I watched some great college games but the PSU romp was on too late for me to stay up.

Today I enjoyed a large brunch. The sun is coming out now, so I'm going to take a long walk and enjoy the cool temps. It's about mid-60's here but after being in temps up to 130 degrees, this is wonderful. I'm going to go to the Chili's on base and enjoy some beverages later and then back to my room so I can yell at the TV during the Steelers v. Bengals game. I can't believe how much hype is being placed on this game but it's a MUST WIN for the Steelers.

I'm heading back to Incirlik on Monday and it will be very strange sleeping in my own bed again. It was weird laying on my queen sized bed in my billeting room, remote in hand, beer on the nightstand and flipping between college games. Almost made me feel at home again. I don't have to share a bedroom with anyone, no over crowded un clean bathrooms and a porcelain toilet. Paradise I tell you. It's amazing what we take for granted. I actually took a shower without a time limit and I almost turned off the water to conserve it. But I thought, shit no, i'm back in civilization and Germany has more rivers than most countries in Europe, I'm on an AF installation and I'm not in Iraq. It was great!

That's about it for now. I will see most of you guys in the next 2 weeks, for those I won't see, I'll email you when I make it back to the states. Pop Pop, only 3 weeks till we go to the Steelers game, man, you better bring your Terrible Towel!!!!!!

Take care all.


Sunday, September 11, 2005

6 weeks left - home stretch

Hello All,

I'm officially on the count down. I only have 6 weeks left in the Operation Iraqi Freedom theater of operations. What does that mean? I'll be leaving Iraq in a little less than 6 weeks and leaving for Germany in 6 weeks.

It has been a pretty interesting week. I met Vince Vaughan, actor (Old School, Dodgeball) this week. He came to Abu on Tuesday and was in the dining facility. Of course I didn't have my camera that day, but I went up to him and shook his hand and told him thanx for coming to Abu, not many people come out here (to include high ranking US Gov't officials).

I received a bed on Thursday, no more cot for me. I've been sleeping better on it. Last week, our HQ pulled out all of the attorneys from Abu Ghraib. They left 4 paralegals down here to handle the paperwork and ship files to HQ. No word yet on whether we're going to be moving or not, but I expect we'll be out of here the last 2-3 wks of my deployment. We'll see.

Work is work. Without the attorneys, our stress level has significantly decreased. All we have to do is our job. Our 4th person came back from R&R so Team America has been reunited. Our back log is almost completely gone, which will help us leave the office earlier each day. I have the day off, so I can't really complain about much.

Not much else going on. Things have been very quite here, which may not be a good thing. I'm just taking it one day at a time. You all take care and I'll see you when I get home some time in early November.


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Update from Iraq - 08/27/05

Hello All,

I know I haven't provided an update in a while, but I finally have a little time to write. I am working at the dining facility today so I'm not tied down to my normal chores.

Iraq still sux. You guys all know that and watch the news. It's sucked more the past few weeks because our 4 man office was down to only two. It's been hectic but we've managed to stay afloat. My days have averaged 16-18 hrs, so you could imagine I'm pretty tired. This past week we've worked on a "mass release" of detainees. Approximately 850 detainees were released and our office was responsible for serving each of them their paperwork. Again adding to the "organized" chaos and mass confusion of Task Force 134.

Last week while driving a HMMVV in a convoy, our convoy was stopped because an IED was found. It turned out to be 3 105 mm artillery rounds linked together. We sat on the highway for over 2 hours. I was sweating bullets because we only had a 1/4 in the tank when we left the base for home. I thought we were definately going to run out of gas. The whole time we were sitting on the hwy, we had the engine running and the AC on, so that chewed up some gas. Luckily we made it back with 1/8 of a tank but that's not much.

Other than that, the TF has changed their "rules" and now require me to be here at least an additional 3 days. I'm looking at leaving late in October. I got word yesterday that we need to move out of our house at Turkey before 1 Jan 06. You can only imagine how Chrissy feels. Seems like Turkey wasn't a great choice of assignments for my family.

Other than all the bad news, I've been closely following the Steelers training camp and it looks like the O has some work to do. Their D is going to be tough again and the Steelers have proved they can win with D as long as the O can score 14-17 pts..... we'll see.

You all take care and I'll keep you updated when I can.. I haven't really taken any more pix because you can only take so many of Abu. if i get some new ones, i'll put them on my website.

later gators.


Yahoo! Mail for Mobile
Take Yahoo! Mail with you! Check email on your mobile phone.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Update from Iraq

Hello Mays in States!!

I am enjoying my second day off during my 7th week of captivity at Abu Ghraib. Not much has changed. The job is still mind numbingly monotonous, the food is not that great, but it's edible and it's stinking hot. Now i think the heat has finally graduated to Qatar hot. it's been getting up to the 120's. So when you all are complaining about 100 degree days with 99% humidity, just think of me and you'll start cooling off. Luckily I don't work outside, i really feel for the Army folks who have to babysit the detainees in the camps. See these guys are forced to be Military Police (MPs). It's not the jobs they were trained to do. More of the Army's war in Iraq when I return. A lot of things I can't say because of the format, but you guys won't believe how things are here. I'm sure glad I didn't GO ARMY.

I caught a bit of a cold this week. Nothing serious, just CRUD. The dust still persists and irritates me like you would not believe. There is nothing I can do about it though. We had a huge sandstorm last week. I went out during the storm and took pictures, then the next day, I walked the same route and took pix from the same angles. The turned out really neat and people like the slideshow i put together. I've been having trouble uploading pix to my website, but i'll keep trying to load these. The sky was Mars colored and looked like rusty air. Seriously, it was bizarre.

I convoyed a few times since my last update. Basically that's how you get around, everything is a convoy. Imagine having to get a huge convoy, complete with armored gun trucks and HMMVVS just to go to downtown Reading from Douglassville. We're only about 20 miles from Baghdad, but it takes an eternity to get anywhere because of the security risks. Americans can't fathom what everyday life is like for the Iraqis or the coalition forces here. There isn't much infrastructure and the roads are terrible. This country has a long way to go.

Everyone knows of our new family member. Chrissy has uploaded a ton of pix to her website and she keeps me up to speed of Carys' progress. From what mom says, Care-Bear looks just like Bean. Taylor seems to think so also. There are two very proud sisters who fight over who can hold Carys or who holds her longer than the other. Some things won't change.

As for me, I'm trying to stay positive. It was hard not being there with Chrissy for the birth, but something good has got to come out of this "adventure." Not sure what it is, but time will tell. Most of you probably know I got my promotion. Unfortunately, i won't "pin on" for about 12 months. That's just how it works in the AF. The other branches I work with don't seem to understand why, but hey, I can't change the AF.... yet..... i'll be looking at changing jobs when i get back to my base. I'm going to try to become an instructor.

I've lost some weight, but that's a good thing. I keep showing people my ID and how "fat" i used to be. I was only about 15 lbs heavier, but I guess it makes a big difference, who knows. Lauren keeps challenging me to a race when i get home, but she'll win. I get much gym time. Today was only the second time i went for a run, on a treadmill. That's one reason why i don't like to run here, I hate treadmills. I keep tweeking my room. I put up a shelf today and drilled a few more screws into my wall. that will help keep things off the floor, but unfortunately, my window doesn't keep all of the bird pleasantries out. A fregging pigeon has decided to build a nest against my plastic window. oooh, if i was allowed to shoot it.

Well, i wanted to send a group hello and a digital hug. Summer camp starts this weekend. I see TO is acting up, guess you Eagle fans are in for some summer drama. I keep telling you to convert to a real team. Hopefully the Steelers can pick up where they left off. Didn't Marino take the Dolphins to the bowl in his second year?? I think so. My Cards are rolling in the NL Central. Hopefully some of their bats can pick up so they can walk their way into the playoffs.

That's about it. Thank you for sending me packages, well wishes, correspondence, emails and other things. I love you guys. See you in the fall - FOOTBALL SEASON -- FINALLY!!!!!