Slightly Cultured Traveler – Middle East Edition

The Middle East isn’t on top of anyone’s bucket list right now because of all the violence. And honestly, if I weren’t in the military, I wouldn’t have ever considered going there myself. But, with that said, I did get to spend quite a bit of my life over there seemingly. Their way of life is entirely different from ours, and at first, it is a bit of culture shock. I like to describe visiting the Middle East as going back in time, because of the primitivities of necessary infrastructure within a city. Plumbing in Iraq is something to be desired. Often there were streets filled with sewage, and who knows what else.


I got the opportunity to visit Israel for work-related travel. My trip was scheduled to be there for at least three weeks, but maybe longer if the job needed it. However, I spent the first week diligently doing my duties and finished much sooner than expected. Because I finished early, this gave me ample time to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Tel Aviv! Honestly, I spent the next week and a half lounging on the beach like it was my job. If I wasn’t lounging soaking up the sun and sand, I was walking my dog up and down the beach. It was also amazing how many people spoke English as well. I didn’t have any problems communicating or getting around the city. I would place this on my list of return destinations in the future!


Kuwait has to be the absolute hottest place in the Middle East and on the entire planet! Out of all the places that I’ve been to, Kuwait feels like the sun is cooking you. I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to see how Kuwaitis live as I was just traveling through to another destination, but there are some rich people there. The number of high-priced vehicles speeding past us on the highway was incredible. To be honest, I don’t want to visit here ever again. It was too hot! Because of the heat, I place Kuwait at the very bottom of my desired destinations in the world.

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The most memorable experience that I had in Qatar was how great the breeze from the sea felt. You could smell the salt in the ocean when that breeze hit you. It felt like paradise! But it wasn’t; I was in the middle of the desert with nothing to see but miles of sand in every direction. Perhaps it was just the location I was in, but Qatar isn’t too high on my list of recommended destinations in the world.


Admittingly, the heat in Kuwait was comparable in Iraq also. So many times, I asked myself, “how can people live in this heat?” There were times that the temperature was over 130 degrees Fahrenheit! Being there on a deployment, we had to wear a lot of gear to protect ourselves from harm. I never complained about putting all that gear on though, because it kept the sun directly off of your body.

Hot none the less, but it wouldn’t burn you through the uniform. It’s too bad that there has been so much conflict in Iraq because, as that is the birthplace of civilization. We could learn so much about our history as human beings. So many ancient historical sites have been destroyed over the years that we will never be able to revisit them. Now I spent the majority of my time in and around Baghdad and the Euphrates River. Someday, when all of the conflict is over, I would like to go back just to be able to see some of the places that I wasn’t able to during my combat tours.


Believe it or not, Afghanistan is incredibly gorgeous! During my tour of duty spent in Afghanistan, I was able to see the vast majority of the country. Very mountainous to the North and East. South and West were more barren farmland and rocky desert. From a scenery perspective, I enjoyed my time along the Pakistan border in the mountains. Seeing as we walked everywhere we went, I learned to appreciate the level of physical fitness I had! Although it seems like no matter how good of condition you are in, the altitude will always win.

As I migrated my way further and further South, things began to change. In terms of living conditions, the Southern Region is a lot more primitive. While being in the vicinity of Kandahar, I worked out of the Argandab River Valley. Sometimes it was referred to as the “green zone,” because it was the only bit of green you could see for miles. So in hindsight, I got to live in a desert oasis for some time! That’s something that many would see as a dream destination. Well, sadly to say, it wasn’t too much of a well sought out place to be while I was there. Finally, I would like to go back to Afghanistan and the Middle East someday to see the country for what it is, not just a warzone.

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