Iraq part two – second love letter to Kurdistan
Hiking in Kurdistan
I arrived at Samuels place, my couch surf contact and host who gave me place for more than one week for free.
The house he lived in, was full of teachers from England. After the arrival at afternoon we walked around the city and he showed me most important places, like the Bazar where you can buy the SIM card, change money to a good course from Dollar to Dinar, because they have no cash machines there and we went on to the Christian and old part of the city called Dyana. For my surprise it was possible to buy alcohol there.
On the second day we got hiking along a valley with a river – a very nice scenery with green hills. Here some pictures:
You have to take care, because you cannot walk everywhere, because there are still a lot of land mines from the war with Sadam Hussain on the mountains. You should ask the locals on which places it is save and don`t go directly off the smalls ways there. But the nature is unbelievable beautiful, so you have to make a hike there.
On the Evening we sit at the roof of their house roof with some vine and relaxed. I was surprised that you can work so easy as a teacher and you earn so much money with it. Everyone there had a lot of experiences from difficult countries, like Korea or Columbia. Samuel for example will go on with the Red Cross to work in Afghanistan for a while after he quitted his job in Kurdistan. I was very impressed from their stories.
Picnic with Assyrians and Peschmerga
The next day I went to Dyana again by myself and met Boyka on the street, an Assyrian guy who invited me directly to a picnic. I drove with him and his friends in modern and new cars into the nature and we spend a nice afternoon together. I could make an interview with him, because he is a refugee who had to leave his place near Mosul because of the ISIS/Daesh. The report about his story will follow. We had a great time there. Some of his friends are Peschmerga fighters as well and told me stories about the war.The Assyrians are all a very old group of Christians who are located in the northern area of Iraq, Syrian and south of Turkey.
Relaxed time at the teachers house
After this really great day I spend some time in the house to work on my blog and we cooked some food together. I had a great time at the teacher’s house. They all were so welcoming to me.
Samuel organized for me also a free drive with his university to the capital city of Kurdistan – Erbil. This city is very modern, with new streets and a lot of new buildings. You also can see there, that they are building a lot and work on a many places. I was again surprises about the rich and good situation there. I walked three hours through the suburbs to the city center.
At the city center there is the big cathedral, a building which is more than three thousand years old. I met a Kurdish teacher called Akko there, who showed me city for free, spend me a lot of tea and we had great discussions. He was also happy that the found someone to improve his English.
In Erbil I had the same experience with the people like in Soran, everyone was greeting and asking where I come from. You can hear everywhere: “Welcome to Kurdistan!”. Also the police and military guys are so friendly.
On the day before I tried to make some picture from the roof of the teachers house, because you have such a great view over the whole city from there. But after ten minutes the secret service who was located opposite the street knocked on the door. I didn`t know that this building is from the secret service. They took my camera and I was a little bit afraid about this. But on the next day after visiting Erbil I got my camera back. They just deleted all the pictures from Soran, but on the end they were friendly to me too.
War in Kurdistan
Sometimes you forget that this is still Iraq and there is a war in this country. I learned to take more care and think more about what I am doing there. But if everyone is so nice and the area looks so peaceful, it is easy to forget the current situation there some kilometers away. There is still a very bloody war going on in Mosul, Kirkuk and in some areas of Iraq in the south, like around Bagdad. I heard that the secret service watch out all the foreigners exactly what they are doing and so on. You get a little bit of a felling how the people in the DDR felt before the changing in Germany. Also the people in Soran are very conservative and everyone knows what each other is doing.
Excursion to the caves
We decided to make another excursion to some old caves on a free day of the teachers. Because we had no car to go on this place about 40 kilometers away we decided to hitchhike there. It was so easy, nearly every car or truck stopped for us and took us with them. But in the end we couldn’t pass the last check point, because one teacher forget his passport at the house. The military guy said it is not possible to go there because of renovation the caves are close. But we were sure it was because of the missing passport.
We decided to go back by walking for a while and enjoyed the peaceful and great nature on a warm and sunny day. It looked like Bavaria or Austria there, the grass was so green, you could see a lot of flowers growing, the cows walked free through the grass and the streets. So incredible beautiful. After we had a small picnic we drove back again by hitchhiking and again very fast.
Hitchhiking in Kurdistan
It’s nice the meet so many friendly people at hitchhiking. Hitchhiking is not only because to safe money for the drive it is more to meet all this nice people and get in touch with the locals. I love hitchhiking more than every especially in Kurdistan.
One day later we spend on a free time park resort, called Shingel Bana, with a roller-coaster, a swimming hall and some stuff more. Some Kurdish guys crashed in my bob with very high-speed on the end of the roller-coaster. This was not really funny because I had very long headache and some problems with my neck after it.
We cooked again at the house on this evening and on my last day it was raining. So I worked again on my blog and on the afternoon as the sun was coming back I walked up a small hill to try again my luck with taking some pictures from Soran.
Kurdistan and the people there touched my heart very deep. Also the nice welcoming of Samuel and his teacher friends I will never forget. After my great time in Las Palmas and Barcelona it was the best time I had on my journey. Kurdistan, I love you!
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