11.26 | 20 Questions

My Aunt Kathy emailed my last week with some questions and it has taken me all week to compose the answers and also to get enough electricity and internet to post the answers. I hope someone besides her takes the time to read them! Her ?’s are in quotes.

How is the baby doing? Still sleeps a lot doesn’t she? How is she handling the time change? As a matter of fact, what is your time if we are at noon today (Monday). Does Robert work a normal 8 hour day? Has your northern accent changed any since you speak another language now? What’s a normal day like? Are you still planning on coming home in April? What is the price of a gallon of gas and a gallon of milk? How far are you from the strife between Turkey and Iraq? Did you have to go to the American consulate and let them know you’re in country? Is there a routine for your electricty to be on or just randomly come and go? You talked about getting your water tanks filled. Question: how? Is there a water truck that comes every few days and you pay for a fill-up? I wasn’t trying to be funny but that’s how I imagine you get your water. How close to a grocery store are you? How many rooms is your house? What is the opinion of the local people about the Americans and President Bush? I’m sure political discussion come up every day. Which other countries have military in your zone? Are there any bombings in your area? As you can tell I have a lot of questions because I’m curious and eager to learn about your adventure and about how this will and is changing your life…

She is doing really well actually! She is settling into a routine again and beginning to sleep almost through the night, sometimes not waking until 5:30AM, other times waking at 2AM still. I don’t think the time change affected her at all really because of the long flight, and we had a day layover in Dubai, so she seemed to hit the ground running. We are 8 hours ahead of EST. A few days ago we went to the Chicco store here to buy a rear facing carrier for her so we can carry her around town, and then Bob carried her in it through the bazaar (packed with people). Men and women alike were stopping to stare at the American carrying his “minale pitchuke” on his chest, and smiling and laughing. They seemed pleased – one person stopped us and asked if he could take our picture. He said he was a journalist. And there was one older woman walking in front of us who kept turning around and looking at Bob…I don’t know if she quite knew what to think! Very funny…

Our work hours are 9-2. We are still setting up our house, so we haven’t been in the office with strict office hours yet, but have been working as much as we can in between getting the house taken care of. We are working very hard on getting internet at the house so that I can work from home and not have to go out every day with Nila (we have it now, and soon even full day electricity to go with it even! I’ll tell you about that another time…). My northern accent hasn’t changed, but I find myself speaking “international english.” That’s english without contractions, and slightly more proper than we speak at home because the people here who DO know English of course learned it very well!

Oh speaking of. There is a macaw in a local restaurant that says, “Choni!” which is their word for hello. You never really think about talking birds in other cultures speaking other languages, huh?

We don’t know the date yet when we’ll return. Robert’s passport expires in June; so definitely before then. I also don’t know how much a gallon of gas or milk is; but our office owns a Nissan patrol, which is like a Pathfinder, and it cost about $100 to fill it up. Robert says gas of all kinds is very expensive. The dollar is trading at 1260 dinars.

As far as the situation between Turkey and the PKK, there is no real way to explain it except to say very far. It doesn’t look far on a map, but culturally, it is. Robert once explained it like this: when Cincy had their race riots we didn’t get worried on Columbus or Dayton, right? No, we didn’t have to go to the consulate…all of the proper procedures are taken care of at the airport when you arrive and at the visa office later. Today we went to get our blood test done for our visas. It was quick and easy. And no, Nila didn’t have to have one!

 The city provides electricty for part of the day and then as a new provision just this year, the neighborhoods have banded together and bought generators to give a spark for the rest of the day. So during each day, the electricity will be either on or off, powered by the city or neighborhood generators…and you can tell which one because when the power goes OFF in your home, you look at the power box and if this little red light is on, it means the city power is powering it; if not, the neighborhood generator is. City power is better because you can power more with it (the heaters don’t work on the neighborhood generators, for example). Of course, there are long stretches of the day when NEITHER is powering the area and you just sit in the dark! That’s why we are excited about 24 hour power at our house. And water…actually can be done both ways. There IS city water that flows through pipes to tanks n the rooftops. But for some reason when we got here, our water pump was broken and the tanks weren’t filled. So, our friend Todd arranged for a truck to come fill the tanks, and then our other friend Gary went with him to get a new pump. They still have to install it, but the water we got was plenty to last. Good thing too because a few days after we got here, the city announced they weren’t giving out any water for five days! They didn’t say why, they just did it! But the thing is that the mosques HAVE to give out water if you come ask for it and there are public showers about town, and most people had water from the last disbursement…so it didn’t seem like a big deal.

Whew! What next!? There are little tiny store everywhere, almost no bigger than what I imagine one of Alex and Carrie’s walk in closet’s to be! The closest one of those is about a three minute walk. Vendors also walk through the streets with carts selling things. Then there are a few actual department stores. BUT, the majority of Kurds here shop at the bazaar, which is just controlled chaos – a middle eastern outdoor mall of maybe 30 city blocks…where each vendor takes up a booth of about 10 feet across. It’s crazy. Our house has a kitchen, bathroom and four rooms downstairs; we use one as a bedroom and one as a living room. The others are empty. The upstairs is unfinished. I don’t know how many rooms are up there.

The Kurds here love America and President Bush but political discussions don’t come up unless you bring it up, in my really limited experience. The South Koreans are the military in charge of this area of Iraq, but you don’t really see them around because Peshmerga, or the Kurdish military, TRULY have control of the Kurdish area and keep the peace well enough that the Korean military don’t have to get out and about. And, no, there are no bombings here.

So that’s it for this round of 20 questions! enjoy!


4 thoughts on “11.26 | 20 Questions

  1. Way to go Aunt Kathy!! I’m willing to let you be family “questioner” for their entire stay, because you ask things that had not entered my mind-thanks!!!
    I’m glad all is well with the Meeker clan and I LOVE the pics of Nila, especially the one in her brown courdouroy jumper!!

  2. International English — that’s funny, I remember speaking the same way, now that you mention it!

    How do you like being the center of attention in public places?

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