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Be careful what you wish for!

I’m sitting in the Panorama Restaurant overlooking the runway at Bratislava Airport. It’s cold and rainblown outside; an ever denser greying mist rises from the tips of the trees that mark the perimeter.

My second trip through Slovakia, but just that – passing through to Budapest. This trip has got me what I wanted: a contract with a company that pays me more than I’m currently earning and also gets me out of Italy. But how I got here and where I’m going would make anyone doubt my sanity.

This part of my life started in April 2005 when I got a phone call that led to a job with a US company. What happened there isn’t part of this story, only to say that, as a consequence, late in 2006 I found myself working with an Italian company who wanted to see if its products could also be sold internationally.

For me both jobs were an opportunity to get out of Italy. Don’t get me wrong: I like the Italian style of living, the cooking, the language, the Mediterranean climate – and as a photographer the locations are marvellous! Its just that doing business there is so unrewarding – both financially and operationally.

Both opportunities didn’t materialize, so I went looking for a third. And found it – with a German/Hungarian company that works in the Middle East.

I had met them first in December 2006, when I traveled to Kandahar with my Italian client to attend a bid for water purifying systems (that’s what they sell). While waiting for the airplane to arrive (it was a day late, which was great for me because that meant I could take some more photos) we chatted about things, including what they were doing.

We stayed in touch and back in July I asked them about job opportunities in the Middle East. Their first question was “would you work in Afghanistan?” Well, I’ve been to Kandahar and I’ve lived in camps – and I knew that would be on the list of questions to ask me. “Yes” was my answer.

Between July and this pass-through of Bratislava to sign my contract in Budapest we talked about other locations, other possibilities, other challenges. “I’m up for anything” I said. Which I am. So of course I got it.

Be careful what you wish for, the old saying goes. You may be granted your wish.

On November 1st I fly out to their operations in Baghdad, where I will live and work during a three month evaluation period. If I survive that, then I get to do something else. I could be there for less; I could be there for more.

Locked into the airport, like Tom Hanks. In a base surrounded by 40,000 guys with guns and things. On the inside looking out, that is. Several thousand more on the outside looking in – but I’m not supposed to worry about them. Working 12 hours a day, 13 days a fortnight. Boy am I going to be stretched!

So here I am, in Bratislava airport thinking about Baghdad airport, traveling home to back my bags, sort out last minute affairs, finish off things with my Italian client. Its dark outside now. Ryanair is on time anyway. Had a good lunch in the restaurant, so no need to eat dinner. Anyway my credit card isn’t working. Again.

Yep, I took this job ‘coz I need the money. I like challenges. And I love adventure.

I’m mad.