Once we step out of the car we started attracting looks; two guys stopped walking, his friends came near by, the shop assistants came out, a car drives slowly with the driver looking through the window. I look to the other side of the road and all the men that are in the café drinking tea and smoking water pipes are starring at us. This is what I imagined from Iraq before coming, that two tourists would stand out. In Dohuk we were not rising so much interest, it´s a place very near by the border and many people come here for a day to check the place, but now we are in a tiny village, a street with some shops and cafes at the side. The man that brought us here does not continue to Choman so we need to keep hitchhiking, there are more than 40 people looking at us.

Iraq, Irak, soldier, soldado, Balak Force

The last lift to Choman was done by a guy that was a soldier, he showed us the ID to make us understand. He drives in a crazy way.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, food, comida, familia, family

Finally Choman! As soon as we arrive our Dutch-Kurdish family offers us a place to sleep, a shower and… AN AMAZING DINNER… Mmmmmmm. Dolma, the dish of this part of the world I like the most. I intend to learn how to cook it once I´m back in Spain. I call them our Kurdish family but in fact we know them for three minutes from the day before and they´ve open their house to us completely.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, Choman

They take us to see the villages around Choman, here there´s a forest with all kinds of trees, including the Mullberry of leaves which are eaten by the silk worm. With the heat it seams impossible that any vegetation survives.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, iran border, fromtera iraní

We get close to the Iranian border, in Haj Omran, the last kilometres we see some little tents in blue plastic, we are told that they are to brew alcohol to send it to Iran. WAIT! In Iran it´s forbidden to drink, How are they going to send alcohol there?… I don´t understand it.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, donkey, burro, man, hombre, vestido, dress, kurd

Man with traditional kurd dress. I love his belt, it´s just a few metres long and a piece of clothing that he twists around his waist. They all smile, they all reply back with a smile. People are surprisingly calm and nice. There are very few people that talk English and that makes communication difficult but they do as much as possible to help.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, iran, border, frontera, irán

I kind of think on crossing to Iran from here but I want to go by Georgia and Armenia before getting into Iran and also I´d have to change all the planning and visa for Turkmenistan and it´s a pain.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, iran, irán, cookies, galletas

We try some Iranian cookies that are sold in a shop near the border. They are delicious enough to make them a reason to visit the country.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, musico, music

We stop on the way to see how this man plays a typical instrument, he lives in this tent in a very humble way.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, traditional music, musica tradicional

He seems to be in pain.

Waiting for dinner we go out to the terrace, there are ton´s of relatives to say hello to each other and to tell their stories, I think I shake hands with 40 people. The neighbours are also in their terrace, two young girls dressed very colourfully, one had some English, she said “hello”, luckily we had Avin(one of the daughters), that was the translator. After some questions about our trip they ask a question which is quite normal in this side of the world. “What religion do you follow?”, The first time I was asked “Are you chirstian?” was in Sarajevo by an ex-heroin addict from Montenegro, it that moment the question surprised me, now I´m used to hear this question.

Without agreement Matt and I replied; “None, I´m atheist” Arvin translated the answer. The neighbours were astonished, mouth half open, dilatated pupils and facial paralysis. They had the same face I´d have if I´d meet the Saddam Hussein, an alien, the Yetti or Jesus Christ himself. Astonished, they didn´t breath, they were pale. Never in their lives was a non believer in front of them, moreover, they´d never thought that there would be someone like that. They had met people from other religions, mainly Christians, someone not being muslim was not a problem for them but someone that had no religion, that didn´t have a god…

To help them recover their breath I told them that I was raised a catholic, I was baptised, made my first communion dressed as a little sailor(dind´t tell them this bit) and that I even got confirmation, but religion and I took different ways so we got distance in between. Matt said that in Australia it´s normal not been raised under a religion and that simply he does not believe in it. On of them the most talkative, had recovered her colour and asked “and… how do you do it?” jajajjaja, I can imagine what´s going through her head, “the may be kind of devils?” I think that she does not know how we guide ourselves in life.

Curiously Matt and I have similar Ideas. I start saying that you don´t need a religion to be a good person, that I was educated in a way that I know how to differenciate between good and bad. This sounds obvious but, normally, it calms people that if you don´t have a religion you are a lost soul.

The conversation continued for a while, we had a translator and we wanted them to understand our point of view. I think we made them understand that we were good people and that the same as they do good things to go to heaven, we think doing good things in life will attract good thing and being honest with yourself you´ll probably let you have a happy life. Who makes me start explaining this things in the blog? I just can hope that it does not sound too simplified.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, traditional dressing, trajes, women, mujer

After having some more Kurdish delights for dinner made by the mother some women came to talk with us, some relatives and friends from our host family.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, mujeres, familia, women, family

We were asked about our country while they tell us things about their lives. We talk about religion, travelling and what we like from here. You can see the video “Made in Iraq II”. They had heard about our no-religion and they were curious to see us and ask.

It´s warm, we all sleep in the terrace, with the breeze the heat is supported better. Next day they take us to a village in the area and we then head to Arbil.

Soon from the capital city.

3 comments so far

Add Your Comment
  1. I ‘m doktor(anew house officer) in the choman general hospital
    I’d like to thank you for this nice report about my country if another time you come to kurdistan i’ll be varyn happy to see you………..Good luck

  2. I’m from kurdistan. I think you didn’t see all of kurdistn. my country have another different thing. Ihope you enjoied to been kurdistan and see you agin in our countiy

  3. I’m from kurdistan. I think you didn’t see all of kurdistn. my country has another different thing. I hope you enjoied to been kurdistan and see you agin in our countiy!