2010
08.20

We are going to Erbil. It’s warm, warmer than other days!!! The taxis are modern but they hardly ever put the air conditioning on. I guess that if they don’t use it at 48 degrees then they don’t use it, and its because they probably could save money. The windows are down, normally even if it´s super warm the air refreshes you, it hit’s the sweat and you feel a bit fresh. Here that doens’t happened, the air hits my cheeks; it burns them, it hit’s on my arm; my skin get’s dry, it hit’s on my knee; it roasts it. My lower back is free between my pants and my t-shirt, instead of feeling cold I feel an intense, dry heat. The feeling is similar to being inside a hairdryer. I imagine naked rolling in snow.

I think on the story of the family that so kindly has host us. When Saddam Hussein started his anti-Kurd policy there were international organizations working in Iraq. Apparently some of then didn’t have the right papers to work there legally even they were helping. Saddam said that he’d kill the people that was illegal in the country and the people that collaborated with them. This was the case of the father of the family, he got his family and his things and went to Turkey, Greece and finished in Holland.
They have a house in Choman, the father seem happy to visit his home, they come here every two years for a month with all the family. Now they face the challenge of immigrants with his sons. His sons have been raised in a western country, the older daughters talk good Kurdish, they remember their childhood here and they feel the place as theirs, however they have grow in Holland practically all their lifes, including their teenager years. For the younger son this is probably more strange “something from his parents”. The cultural difference is big, the way of life, of dress, the food, the young way of entertainment… After this years out of Iraq they are not totally seen as Iraqis as they don’t live there, and in the west they are immigrants, they are in between two worlds, on one side they have more cultural heritage because they know two ways of life, on the other they don’t have a clear home.

I think about the story of the family that so kindly  hosted us. When Saddam Hussein started his anti-Kurd policy there were international organizations working in Iraq. Apparently some of then didn’t have the right papers to work there legally even though they were helping. Saddam said that he’d kill the people that were illegal in the country and the people that collaborated with them. This was the case of the father of the family, he got his family and his things and went to Turkey, Greece and finished in Holland.

They have a house in Choman, the father seemed happy to visit his home, they come here every two years for a month with all the family. Now they face the challenge of immigration with his sons. His sons have been raised in a western country, the older daughters talk good Kurdish, they remember their childhood here and they feel the place as theirs, however they have lived in Holland practically all their lifes, including their teenager years. For the younger son this is probably more strange “something from his parents”. The cultural difference is big, the way of life, of dress, the food, the young way of entertainment… After these years out of Iraq they are not totally seen as Iraqis as they don’t live there, and in the west they are immigrants, they are in between two worlds, on one side they have more cultural heritage because they know two ways of life, on the other they don’t have a clear home.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, Arbil, capital

Arbil is one of the warmest places in Iraq. We are told it’s 50 degrees but we don’t find a thermometer to ratify it. I’ve been hours with my hands wet in sweat, my fingers are wrinkled and the snots have become dry and hard hurting my nose. If I take a pen from my bag it burns, same with the coins or whatever you touch, all burn.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, man, hombre, vestido, dress

A man in Kurdish dressing. Love it! When the trip finishes I’ll have to do a list of all the things I say I love.

Iraq, Irak, money, dinero, billete, note, bank of Iraq (800x451)

No coins, all notes.

I finish “The Alchemist”, the book that brought me here. I like it(another “love it” for the list), the idea of omens, of understanding the language of the world and of talking with the wind. If I ever meet the French girl that recommended it I’ll say thank you.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, Meca

Walking by Erbil’s souk I see this drawing of Mecca. You can also buy a replica of the Kaaba, the black square stone which is the holiest place for Islam and which towards all of them pray.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, bus

We try to get a bus to come back to the border, but there are none. We get another shared taxi. We just see buses to Mosul, but every time “Mosul” comes up there’s someone coming to inform us not to go, like that man that took his hand through his neck making the noise of sliting it. To be sure we have the right information we call Berashi as a phone-translator, this must be the tenth time we call him.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, arbil, capital, man, dress, vestido

Arbil is another place that claims to have been inhabited for a long time, the citadel. It’s UNESCO heritage.

Iraq, Irak, kudistan, baghdad, bagdad

With Mosul, Baghdad and Kirkuk are the most dangerous cities of Iraq, what probably means in the world.

In the taxi I think once more about these last days, the hospitality that they have after having had such a hard life. The country worth going, the best: the people. Definitely summer is not the time to come and visit, too dry and too war, the landscapes has lost the green they have in spring and sometimes you are more worried of not dying of dehydration than of enjoying what you are doing but it’s been very interesting to learn about the Kurds and their history, as they say “the other Iraq”.

I hope the Iraqi Kurdistan keeps being a peaceful and as nice a place as it’s now, they are doing fine, they have had a few years of stability. They don’t have it easy, today USA troops have left the country while there are cities in which people die constantly and they are surrounded by countries where the Kurds are not that free. In February 2008, for example, Turkey bombed the north of the Iraqi Kurdistan claiming that PKK was using it as a base for terrorist actions in Turkey.

The PKK is a political party/terrorist group pro Kurdish. They mainly act in Turkey where there’s a population of 14 million Kurds that until the year 2002 had forbidden the talk of Kurd in schools or having TVs and Radios in Kurd language. Turkey has loosened its laws in this aspect to get closer to Europe.

I come back to Turkey, to the Kurd zone, knowing more of its culture. I hope it’s not that warm.

See you soon.

Fernando

1 comment so far

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  1. Hi Fernando, I see you have spent good and memorable days in Erbil, capital of Iraq. I am going to write an article about how the weather is hot these days in Iraq and also Erbil.
    It seems you enjoyed your time in Erbil. I want to know more about you and even meet you if you back Erbil. I work for a weekly English paper circulated in Erbil every Saturday. The name of the paper is Kurdish Globe. You can read our stories on http://www.kurdishglobe.net

    Kind Regards
    Salih Waladbagi