No cold pills in Iraq

The weather here has gotten extremely hot. Typically the temperatures are between 115 and 120, though it can easily climb higher. Even with all the heat, we still are keeping a high operations tempo; we've been running missions day and night, and on a number of occasions have been out walking through town during the hottest part of the day.

The local population has a better idea regarding the heat; during the most intense part of the day, they close down most of the shops, and they go home. The shops reopen sometime in the late afternoon and remain open until after sundown. We are sure we are the butt of jokes when the locals see us walking around wearing all that gear in the middle of the day; even though we don't know for sure what they're saying, it can't be far from, "Stupid Americans ... only they would be out walking in this heat." Oh well. At least they know we're tough, if a little lacking in intelligence. At least we haven't had any heat injuries.

An article in the newspaper we receive here had to do with rumors going around Iraq regarding American troops. Some, we're sure, are propaganda spread by the insurgents, such as Americans eating babies and stealing children, or that the airborne troops dye their berets with enemy blood. My favorite is the rumor that Americans have a "cold pill." I thought this was a pill for the common cold, but I was wrong. Apparently, a lot of Iraqis believe we take a pill that keeps our bodies cold and enables us to wear all that gear out in the sun. We wish.

Another rumor is that we all wear X-ray glasses that allow us to see through cars, walls and even people's clothing.

The big obstacle that we're trying to fix is the electrical supply to the city. In a neighboring town, some insurgent blew up the power plant, so for the last couple of weeks the locals have been living without AC or lights. Some of the bigger houses have generators, but it's usually only wealthier families that can afford them. Most of the population have taken to sleeping in their courtyards or on the roofs since it's a lot cooler outside at night. A couple of nights ago we went into a house, and I was checking to make sure the courtyard was secure; as I was going around the corner, I almost tripped over a sleeping child.

Thankfully I didn't wake her, as I'm sure that would have been rather frightful. Always something to keep us on our toes.

About a month ago we had to give up one of our medics to cover for another unit that was short; that left us with three medics instead of four. We've definitely been earning our keep with all the missions we've been on. I just hit my 200th mission, and we're not yet halfway through our tour. So far we haven't had any problems covering all the missions.

We're more than happy to take on a little extra work because we know that our break is coming up soon. Usually, we can even out the schedule to make sure no one medic gets swamped, but there have definitely been days where I've gotten back off a mission at 4 in the morning and had to get up two hours later to head back out. At least it makes the time go by quickly.