16 April 2003 (Our First Ice Cream)

0508Z, 16 April 2003, Wednesday

I haven’t written in awhile. It’s difficult to find the time to write when there really isn’t much going on. Our days are beginning to resemble each other. A couple of days ago, Nate and I went out on a presence patrol through one of the neighborhoods called Al Mansur with the SF guys. We were able to dismount and speak with the local populace. While we were on the ground talking with people we were able to get locations on a few weapons caches and also some safehouses for Fedayeen.

There were a lot of people there. We’d try to talk to one guy and eventually there would be an entire group congregated around us trying to tell us their story. Everyone seemed to have information about something. We eventually had to pull people aside to an area that we had roped off just to talk to them. The worst part of doing what we did was that we had to completely cut off traffic to the area we were walking around in. It was a major road so traffic was backed up pretty far for a little while. Everyone was really anxious to help in whatever way they could. These aren’t the same Iraqis I’ve been fighting for the past few weeks. They’re actually people.

During our visit we also saw an ice cream stand and I bought ice cream for me, Nate, and the security guys with us. It only cost me 250 dinars each, 1000 total. That converts to about 20 cents. Four ice creams for 20 cents! You can’t get a better deal. And did I mention it was ICE CREAM?! The cold kind. Actually, it didn’t really cost me a thing because I used the money I had taken from the enemy and dead people. There were also venders on the sides of the street selling cigarettes for $5 a carton. I bought 3 cartons and sold them for $20 each. I’ve got over $200 to my name now in cash. I crossed the border into Iraq with about $38. Of course, all this money will go back into operations since it’s difficult getting things here.

Today we’re going on another presence patrol in the same general vicinity. I plan on buying about $40 worth of cigarettes. If I can get them for $5 a carton, I’ll just sell them for $10. That’s only a $1 per pack, which I guess is good if you’re a smoker. I don’t smoke, so it’s just money to me. I can’t believe these people spend about $35 on a carton of cigarettes back in the states. That’s an expensive habit. I could certainly find much better things to spend that money on. But, we all win I guess.