So this morning, with butterflies like a kid on the first day of school, I walked to the volleyball court behind Pad 10 (less than 5 min walk from my CHU) at 6:00am. I should clarify that I absolutely LOVE volleyball though I'm just a decent player. I've never played on a team, but am a huge fan of the sport and this invitation was a thrill.
Naturally, I was the only female there as seems to be the curse of Iraq, and I encountered two types of reactions from the guys, they were either extremely shy and would barely look at me, gently tossing the ball to me underhand or they were overtly flirty and were thrilled to see a woman who wasn't afraid of the ball.
Either way, the morning was a blast. I actually made the 12th player so we played 3 games of 6 on 6 and then we lost a few players and our last game was 4 on 4. The invited me back to play next week which was a relief. Part of me felt like I was intruding since this was their unit playing and not a collection of random individuals. It was one of the first experiences I've had in Iraq where I think I was genuinely just having a great time. The sunshine, the game environment, the jokes and the laughing. It was almost like we could have been on a beach somewhere, on vacation, except for the rat-tat-tat of gun fire heard off in the distance, keeping pace with our game.