Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dante never envisioned this kind of heat

Hello fellow travelers,

Yesterday, just in time for the first day of Ramadan, the temperature went up to 58 degrees Centigrade...about 136 Fahrenheit. If you have ever sat in a Swedish or Russian sauna, you probably have some idea of what I am talking about.

Now, just try to imagine that the temperature comes down to about 50, and then go and play soccer with 20 little boys for one hour.

It's intense.

Somehow, they don't care....they keep running (and running their mouths) even after I ask them to stop. Frequent water breaks seem to keep them from getting too worn out.

So now we have several good nicknames for the players:

David Beckham--changed to Kaka now that he got a haircut
Mickey Mouse
Green Bean
Four Eyes
Fat Albert
Pretty Boy
Mama's Boy
Charlie Brown
Monkey 1
Monkey 2

There may be more that I can't recall right now....the boys all know them.

They have so much fun on that field....I don't mind a little brotherly teasing with nicknames.

What Iraqi boy would not want to have a cool English nickname from his soccer team?

Today we were supposed to play on the big field in the neighborhood--I had organized security and everything for it--but two factors intervened.

1. The field is booked by groups wanting to play--well in advance--and the guy from the compound who was supposed to take care of it, did not do so. I was going to take the boys over there anyway, in the hope that we could learn something from the older players, and maybe get a few minutes to run on the field when they take a water break or whatever, but.....see #2

2. The field is 2 KM from the compound--too far to walk there and play and come back in 1 hour, which is the time I was allotted for the security detail. I was led to believe it was an easy walk. No way to fit 20 kids in a Suburban.

This will have to wait.

Unfortunately, my grass field is still undergoing daily inundation and fertilizing. So we played 'Hot Potato' in the dirt side of the field, did some running, and calisthenics, and then some more running. We did 'Hot Potato' first with a stone we found in the field, using hands; then with feet on a little mini soccer ball (size of a golf ball) that I put in my shoes at night as a freshener; then with hands again with a full sized ball, but it had to be tossed, not handed, to the next player. It's good hand-eye coordination work, and it made them laugh--that's the payoff.

So, another day in Erbil. Tomorrow we will play.

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