Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dubai Mall

.....Also known as Day 1-part one :-)

So... Most of us going on about 3 hours sleep... Decided it would be a good idea to venture in the inferno and take in the local sites... Now, I already told you how to imagine driving in the middle east is... Remember class ? Bumper cars--A.D.D.--and Mountain Dew ring a bell?

Our cabbie was a sweet, quiet soul named O-shit.. Because that was what the six of us in the van said the most! "O-shit! Watch out for...". "O-shit! Don't hit that!"
First stop... Dubai mall. One word... WOW! Ya, that's right.. All caps AND an exclamation point.
First thing you see at the entrances are the massive water features of men eternally swan-diving...

Very impressive... These were definately cool. What a way to start off our aimless wander-fest? And really... That all we were doing is wandering....

We were really surprised as we rounded the corner to see a massive sea-quarium in the mall...

Holy Stingrays Batman! This was just too cool.

Now what mall would be complete without a little advertising? See all the pretty bright lights? Those are all one giant led screen..

All over the mall! Tells people about sales... Specials and even prayer time...

Starting to get a little hungry from all the walking around ? No worries, mate... We got ya covered.

Can you say 5 lbs of chocolate in that bar ? Want a little syrup to go with it?

Maybe it just time to cool off at your friendly desert ice rink?

And yes... Even in the middle east... The golden arches still rule

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Flood of reality

Finally.. Another long flight is over. Emirates is definately a nice airline to fly on. I am here,

back in the middle east, and the reality of it all has begun to set in.

As we began our final descent to land in Dubai, a quick glance out the window showed the unmistakable layout of golden lit streets an highways. At that point, an eerie flood of emotions came like a tidal wave. Memories, some good, some not-so-much, of every single time I have been in this portion of the world filled my head. It's been a few years sice I've been here... And honestly never really expected to come back since I have retired.... But, alas.. Here I am.
We get off the plane, and there is all the traditional

clothing... The familiar Arabic language being spoke... And what most would not expect to hear....the welcoming smiles from all of them.
I would say as we were landing, the most resounding thought going through my brain... Did I really want to do this again? Did I really want to live it what sometimes feels like another planet, did I feel like dealing with mortars, snipers, rockets and of course.. The drivers ?

A little late for that line of thinking now...genius !

We collect our bags and jump on a little bus to take us to our hotel... Now.. If you have never driven in the middle

east...imagine a massive bumper car track with about 200 kids hyped up on a case of Mt Dew each... It's always an adventure.

Now we are at our hotel.. Just got here.. It's 2 am local time....

Over 17 hours of flying and a few hours of layover time. Guess where we are ? In another meeting! Hahaha... And this meeting is literally to schedule a meeting for tomorrow! LOL
We now know we will be here at least until tomorrow night... Beyond that? Who knows...

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

The adventure begins

This has definately been a long week. Briefings about safety, briefings about treating people nice, briefings about the heat, the San, the sun... Ugh... Pretty sure there was a briefing in there about briefings!
I did get to meet some great people... Firefighters from every immagimable background ( full time, volunteer, ARFF, Structural, civilian, Army, Air Force, Navy and even a Marine). A few Medics... With almost as diverse a sampling.... And tons of other people.. Many of whom I'm sure were found just wandering around the city haha.
I think there were some more briefings.....
Got new uniforms issued, took some tests...
Maybe attended a briefing...
Had a meeting to schedule a meeting..
Got invaded by an army of over-caffeinated tween cheerleaders
Moved hotels
Might have had a briefing

......... Ugh

Now, as I look out the window of my boeing 777 as it slowly climbs to the sky, watching the city shrink and the road begin to look more like rivers roaming through the wild, my mind begins to wander toward the adventure that has just begun.
The reality of this journey has finally hit.
Oh, I've known for quite some time that I was going, but until now, it hall been quite surreal. However, the uncertainty of the near and distant future abounds. Yes, there are certain things I know... Such as, once again, I am a firefighter, I am a captain, and I am headed to Iraq... Outside of this... I know that my first stop is London...which is where this will probably be posted from... Then on to Dubai. Other than that, there is very little.
I do know that it will be hot.... But I do not know "where" it will be hot... In a less broad sence.
As to which city in Iraq I will be, which base I will be assigned to, how many men I will have, and the inherent risk I am about to accept... To these questions.. I have no clue.
So... If a clue is what I don't have... Then I shall focus my attention to a little less broad spectrum...what I do know.
London, unfortunately, won't be much fun since we only have a few hours between flights. So the next logical step is Dubai. Which there still is not much info. Don't know how long I'll be there, but at least I do know which hotel... And I've been to Dubai before.. So I won't be completely lost hahaha. Hopefully we will be there Lon enough to do some exploring... The new mall... The HardRock cafe..
From Dubai, it's off to Bagdhad. Another fun-filled exciting week absolute good times.... Not. Will be another week of training, briefings, equipment issue and acclimation. Toward the end o the week... In theory... We will get our assignments and prepare to head out to wherever......

Take care... Stay safe

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