Packing for Iraq is a challenge.

Body armor has been out for a while. The last time I tried to bring my own, it was confiscated at Amman's Queen Alia airport. So I borrow some when needed from colleagues.

Now that the violence is down, I'm not certain whether I still need to wear a full length abaya, or long black cloak, or whether I can get by with a black raincoat. Just to be safe I'm taking the abaya. Last year my driver's wife bought me one with yellow embroidery on the front, but I think that looks too conspicuous. So it's the ugly, nondescript polyester, drag-on-the-ground abaya with velcro closings for me. And the full bore, wrap around black headscarf, though I'll take a smaller version in case things have really become more calm.