Monday, October 16, 2006

Rain Returns to Baghdad

On Thursday night I was sitting by the Palace Pool, listening to the high-pitched, uptempo dance music that accompanies the monthly "Middle Eastern Night." The sky was a strange purplish orange, the air was hazy, and the palm trees surrounding the pool were nearly doubled over by the gusts of wind coming off the Tigris. I thought we might be in for a shalal (sandstorm), but instead, freezing raindrops the size of silver dollars started to fall. The music kept playing, and the Embassy's Arab employees continued dancing, but everybody else was forced to run for cover from the first rain to fall here in at least six months.

It only sprinkled occasionally on Thursday. However, on Friday night, sheets of rain pounded the IZ for about an hour, accompanied by gale-force winds and an impressive lightning show. As I returned to my trailer from playing cards with some friends, I saw that a thirty-foot palm tree had fallen, broken into three sections, and blocked the narrow path leading to my hooch. (Unfortunately, my laptop hard drive crashed a few weeks ago, so I can't take any photos for a while).

But this was nothing compared to what happened to my friend John, who was sitting in his trailer watching television when he heard a creaking sound outside. The next thing he knew, a palm tree was crashing through his roof. As you can see from the picture below, the palm pretty much crushed his trailer as if it were an aluminum can. (Ironically, a rocket would have left a much smaller hole . . . assuming it did not detonate, of course).