Well, as it turns out, Iraqis tend to be somewhat brighter than Afghans, but there are still distinct similarities between the cultures that should be mentioned. These similarities have a nasty tendancy to slow down the passage of time around here, as they make me want to go out to the clearing barrel and empty a magazine or two just to get out pent-up aggression.
Now, I understand that maps are a little foreign. In places with no street signs, and in most places no addresses, map reading tends to be a bit of a lost art. By lost, I mean exactly where we would be if we left it up to these people.
The common problem is the statement, “It is a famous place. Everybody knows this place.” Okay. If it is so famous, how come I have no idea where it is? And how come you can’t tell me how to get there?
I have also gotten, when people are looking at maps that cover several hundred kilometers, “Well where is the chicken farm?” Funny. I think that is the question I just asked you. If I knew where it was, I wouldn’t have asked you to show me on the map, would I? Oh, and by the way, there must be 4,000,000 chicken farms in the general vicinity of Iraq. Have fun.
A personal favorite is actually getting them to follow a map without deviating into a field or a trash heap or through the middle of houses. Okay, my friend. If you know you follow the road to the end when you drive on it, follow it to the end on the map. In all reality, that is not a really challenging concept. I say things like, “Okay, but see you can’t go that way because you just cut through six people’s houses, a goat herd, a minefield, the Tigris, and two orchards.” And they just respond with, “You go THIS way. Then you go THIS way.” and use the same route.
My brain dies a little each day.