Well, it looked like we were going to fly out of here this morning, but the military cancelled our plane to meet other requirements. That left 70 Chief-of-Mission personnel (non-military) for the second day in a row scrambling to change their onward travel plans. After finding out about our situation , the Embassy is trying to get us a plane. These flights are contracted by the State Dept to move COM personnel personnel in and out of Baghdad, but the military diverted the aircraft for a higher priority -- something that is rarely done. Its tough on the morale of those who are hoping to begin R&R or are ending their tour and have travel commitments. We are all hoping that the Embassy is able to resolve the problem and that we'll be able to fly out soon. We have apparently set a record for staying the longest in this transient compound (Sully) of any group in recent memory trying to fly out. If we don't fly out tomorrow, we have been told the whole mission may be scrubbed, and we will be sent back to the IZ to start over again the process of booking new milair reservations. At that point, it would be doubtful that I would make it back to Warsaw in time for the June 14 good-bye barbeque or perhaps even for our flight to the US on June 17. One has to book a milair reservation more than four days in advance notice and the flights often fill up several weeks in advance. Sorry for the bad news, and to leave the family with so much uncertainty. We may have word this evening about a flight tomorrow. Inshallah.
June 9, 2008
The skies are clearer, although there is still some wind, which picks up the dust.
We have a flight scheduled to leave here late this morning, so by mid-afternoon I should be in Amman. I don't think I'll have time to go to the Dead Sea, which is too bad, as I probably won't travel through Amman again. (There is a minimal layover in Kuwait and I can fly direct from there to DC on United with no stopovers, so in the future I plan to go that route. This will give me more of my R&R time actually at home rather than traveling.)
Well, the sandstorm forced the cancellation of this morning's flight, which was to have come in from Kuwait and then taken us to Amman. They are planning to resume flights at 1800. Whether we will fly late in the day or have to wait until tomorrow is still not known. If I get out tomorrow, I'll be able to take the Lufthansa flight on June 10.
June 8, 2008
We made it to Sully compound at Baghdad Int'l Airport (BIAP) just before 3am. We made the trip (about 40 mins) in a large armored bus, called the Rhino, that does shuttle runs between the IZ and BIAP. (Its called the Rhino because, for some at least, it has a similar appearance. I got a room (shared) at Sully and slept for two and one-half hours. Then arose for the 6:30am check-in, when we learned that the flight had been cancelled due to the duststorm. The flight has been rescheduled for the morning of June 11, weather permitting. One guy who rode on the Rhino was relating how he had been stuck at BIAP for four days due to weather. It's not something I like to think about. There isn't much to do here other than read, sleep, watch movies, and do some work on the computer.
The sandstorm here continues to threaten my travel plans. It forced the cancellation of my helo to BIAP (Baghdad International Airport) this afternoon. I'll instead take the Rhino shuttle late tonight to BIAP and then catch a very early Sunday flight to Amman. Let's hope that the dust storm does not cancel the flight to Amman, or at least that I get to travel on Monday. Otherwise, I'll miss the Lufthansa flights to Frankfurt and Warsaw.