I had just finished procuring some Dunhill pipe tobacco from a tobacconist (o.k., he is actually just a guy who has a table with various tobacco) in the lobby when there was a boom followed by the sound of shattering glass plunging from the sixth floor skylights to the lobby floor. As is my custom, after getting to a sheltered position, I opted to freeze momentarily, as these things often come in twos and threes. I then took the elevator to my room, wondering all the while why they chose to put glass elevators in this building. I retrieved my camera, and made my way to the staircase (for those safety Nazis reading, there is no lobby access via stairs to the sleeping floors, thus my previous use of the elevator). I ran up to the sixth floor deck, where the missile hit a couple of weeks ago, to see where this missile hit. It is from there that I took the exterior pictures of the damage to the 12th floor.
I then got back in the staircase, and began running to the 12th floor. I made it as far as the ninth floor before the smell began to get thick. I have now been close to a few explosions, and they have a unique smell-- a distinct chemical smell, mixed with smoke, mixed with what smells like burning wires or an electrical fire. The smell became too strong to continue running, so I slowed my pace to slow my breathing. When I made it to the 12th floor, the Fox news guys were there, but whoever was behind the door was not letting anyone through.
I then made my way to the internet café across the street to upload the pictures. A large armored column came by, with M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles making their way with great haste. The cold steel warmed the cockles of my heart. No sooner had I made my way to the café than the power went out, and the café closed. This message, if it makes it through, will be by means of my satellite phone.
As I began to say in my last message, it is interesting to note that the attacks occur right before the call to prayer. For example, when they hit the hotel last time, it was around 4:30 am, just before prayers. This time has proved popular recently for a series of mortar attacks on the Green Zone—enough so that I must admit that I braced myself for a boom this very morning at that time.
For those who wonder about the prudence of staying at this hotel, suffice it to say that there is a calculation to my move. The biggest factor is that while it is susceptible to missile and mortar attack, it is not easily hit with a car bomb. I have been in the building twice now when missiles hit and, through God’s mercy, walked away. It is far less likely that I would be able to say the same if I were in a hotel hit with a car packed with explosives.