Hot Day – 4 October
Today we waited around for our logistics staff to work out a number of issues before we could get back on the water and by the time we underway, we’d missed the coolest part of the day. There was hardly a breath of air all day and my sweat was sweating.
Abu H takes a dip during the heat of the day
R takes a snooze
Scenery along the way
We saw occasional boats out (all net fishermen) and they usually stopped for a chat. Overall, though people are surprised to see foreigners in rather a strange assortment of boats on the river, they seem to take it in stride.
Sometimes we get, “Aren’t you afraid to be here in Iraq? It’s dangerous.” But when we ask them about the security of the location we are in, they always say, “Oh here you are safe. There are no problems here.”
R is confident that in these vast agricultural lands that we have now entered, we really face no dangers and I generally agree with him. Most of the fear and warnings we get come from the city folk as that is where most of the problems are centered, but I told R that in 2004 I had spent 6 months in Baghdad and 2 months in Hebron in the West Bank (the latter with an organization called the ChristianPeacemaker Team, which also has a presence in Iraq). Those of us who had lived and worked in both countries tried to compare the violence in these two vastly different places.
We determined that in the West Bank you were more likely to get hurt (but not killed) and you would see it coming because the anger and animosity is very close to the surface and right there on everyone’s face. In Iraq, at least at that time, you were more likely to be killed but you would never see it coming because everything appears normal and the people are friendly but then a car bomb goes off or a car full of gunmen sweeps in. It’s rather hard for either of those situations to occur on the river but then again we are also a rather unusual and slow-moving target afloat as we are. Regardless, as long as the local people are telling us we are in a safe area, we’ll keep going.
We finally came to a halt near a water out-take structure and small-scale treatment facility. Two of our members had to leave to return to Baghdad with one of our logistics staff so there were only four core team members left and one logistics guy that camped by the river that night.
End of the day
Boats at rest
R and I established our camping spot on top of the walkway for the water out-take and I spent about an hour (without success) trying to call my father who had just had his first chemotherapy treatment the day before (I finally got through on my brother’s number but could only leave a message).
Camping spot (the wind finally picked up and kept the bugs away but some farmer has decided to plow for an hour near our camping spot and has kicked up an immense amount of dust so the photo looks a bit odd)