I Visited My Daughter in Iraq

So, your daughter lives where?! Is she in the military? This is the response I would usually get when I told people that my eldest lived in Iraq. They didn’t understand the heart that she had to love and serve these people. It could be really hard. I watched her deal with such culture shock – both there and returning home. Who knew that Walmart was so overwhelming? But she kept going back.

But after a couple of years there, she started asking me to come visit her – to see “her home”, “her kids”, to see why she was so passionate about her job. She started asking if I had my passport yet. For Christmas one year, I asked for funds for a passport and started saving money and leave time from work to travel. My younger daughter was using the semester after college to travel and we made plans to go together.

My life doesn’t include much in the way of adventure, and while I had traveled outside the country with my parents, I had not traveled anywhere in many years. I carefully packed and weighed my luggage, something I had seen done many times in preparation. Due to scheduling inconsistencies, it was considered prudent at the time to plan an overnight stop in Istanbul. It proved to be good advice as they moved up our flight time by 12 hours at the last minute and the extra time was necessary.

We reserved a hotel room in Istanbul sight unseen and expected to be surprised. We were not disappointed. Our room was at the top of a spiral staircase (thank the Lord that the young man at the desk offered to bring our luggage) and was painted the brightest Pepto Bismol pink that still showed roller marks. The bathroom (we did make sure we got a private one with our room) was a toilet and sink inside a shower. We had a great laugh, and did get to see some of the tourist attractions in Istanbul.

The flight into Sulymania arrived at 3 a.m. I am not sure if that was due to security concerns or what, but that is when it was. We were so jet-lagged after 30+ hours of travel already that it hardly made any difference to us, but I felt bad for the drivers that came to pick us up. As happens in jet lag situations, we were awake and ready by 8am to go to class with my daughter and see her school. She was so excited!

I did pretty well for the first hour, then the heat (it was in the 90s in April) and lack of sleep caught up with me. The school was only 6 blocks away and I felt only a little nervous about walking back to the house. We had used up the rest of the bread for breakfast, so my daughter asked me to stop at the bakery (I could easily find it on the way home). All I had to do was point to the rolls in the case, hand the money she gave me to the baker, and I should expect about 6 rolls.

I felt a little unsure about handling a purchase in a foreign country without any knowledge of the language, but she assured me I would do just fine. I found the bakery easily enough, but it was too early for the bread to be in the case. The young man there looked at me questioningly, so I asked in English and formed a 3 inch ring with my fingers. He then walked away and crooked his finger for me to follow. There was my dilemma, do I follow the man down a dark hallway, while alone, in a country where I do not speak the language? Would you?

But I was there for an adventure, so I did. He led me to the cooling racks in the back and opened them for me to choose what I wanted. I pointed them out, handed him the money and he put six rolls in a bag for me to take home. Success! There are few things that have made me feel more accomplished than buying bread that day.

My first day in country was a win! I could buy food. And the rest of the trip didn’t disappoint either.
To be continued…

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Read more in part 2 here!