I've written in previous blogs about duststorms here in Baghdad...about how they block the sun and make our lives miserable.
Well, we had the worst one yet over the past few days. This one was a whopper.
I was up early Wednesday morning...in the office by 0530 to do a live interview with a TV station in Texas. As I was walking to the office I was already choking on dust and couldn't even see the lights on Signal Hill...which is right next to us. I then had to drive a Soldier over to a pickup point so she could go out on a mission. It was like driving in thick fog. As the day progressed it just got worse.
I was in the office late that night and walked back to my CHU about 9:30. The dust was so thick that my eyes were burning 50 feet outside the door! I hate to admit it, but I got a little disoriented walking through one of the side parking lots. We unconciously use landmarks to guide us, especially in the dark at night...I use those lights on Signal Hill and the floodlights on Division HQ as a beacon when walking across that dark parking lot. As I was walking I thought I heard a noise behind me. I turned my head to look and then turned back. Just that small head motion made me lose my bearing and, since I had no lights to guide me, I was a bit...lost. I focused on the direction the cars were parked and that led me across the lot and past the barriers to where I could finally see the floodlights on the headquarters building. By then my eyes were stinging and my throat was dry.
Back at my CHU I pondered taking a shower. Walking through a dust storm with wet hair didn't seem fun to me, but I also needed to be clean, if even for a few minutes. I was extra careful in the shower to make sure I was completely dry and then dashed back to my CHU. I had to brush the dust out of my hair! The dust was so thick IN MY CHU that I fell asleep swallowing dust.
The next morning it was still bad. The dust had settled somewhat but there was still a lot in the air. There was dust EVERYWHERE. The gray rocks on the pathways are tan. The port-a-john's were covered inside and out, porches, lights, T-Walls...everything. But to make things worse, the dust affected our electronics and Internet. I couldn't log onto my government computer until after 1 p.m. The Internet was down for the most part, electricity was out all over the place. The PX was closed until the afternoon, power was out in a lot of the CHUs. It was like being in Minneapolis after a major snowstorm! The power went out in our building in the morning so we ran on generator power until late in the afternoon.
Last night I tried to do some cleaning in my CHU. Wiped off everything with a damp cloth, mopped the floor with a Swiffer. It will take a few cleanings to get the dust out of my room. I cleaned the filter in my A/C but it will be dusty again by Saturday. We are one with the dust. :)