by Jennifer Martin
Our breakfast for each day of the trip was nearly the same: a free continental breakfast of bread, tea, cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, olives, and cheese. After eating and attempting to connect to the internet, we undertook the 60-120 minute journey to Amadiyah, Iraq via taxi.
The road to Amadiyah winds through the rugged Kandil mountain range and among the small Kurdish villages scattered therein. Characterized by its vastness rather than height, the range held a certain impenetrable quality. The mountains seemed more like painted shadows in the distance. Think Jim Carey as "Truman" in the movie, The Truman Show. After some initial observations, I fell asleep for the remainder of the trip. Some things will never change, such as my propensity for falling sleep while riding in cars.
Amadiyah is a small town with nice scenery, but it wasn't quite the "breathtakingly picturesque" and the "village in the clouds" that a travel article described it as.
After looking around for several minutes, we decided to return to Dohuk. As Steve whistled for the cab, a metal bar swooped down out-of-nowhere (i.e. the bar jutted out from the wall and Steve was looking in another direction) and nailed him in the head. As we were tending to his wound, a local man - and one of the only people we met the entire trip who spoke fluent English - suggested that Steve receive stitches at the hospital...which happened to be located directly behind us. The doctors and nurses, who also spoke fluent English, took Steve in for "treatment" immediately. Their verdict was that Steve needed a tetanus shot. So Bobby and I stood outside the room, holding back laughter and tears, envisioning Steve get a shot in the ass in Iraq. We were disappointed to learn that tetanus shots were arm-shots. Post-shot, we asked where to pay. Their response? "It's free"...and it being free was not a result of us being tourists...
On the return trip to Dohuk, our cab driver pointed to an anomaly: a mansion sitting on the mountainside overlooking the Kurdish villages. "Saddam house," he informed us. And no, tours are not permitted.
After a long day of traveling and hospital visits, we grabbed food and headed to a shisha bar. It was immediately apparent that I was the only girl, but no one seemed to mind. This crazy guy walked in several minutes after us, sat down next to me, and proceeded to talk incessantly for an hour. At one point, he wanted a picture with the American girl (me). I obliged, he put his arm around me, and Steve snapped the picture. This is only notable because during the entire time in Iraq, he was the only person that touched me. Even on the crowded streets, men would never touch women. Not even an inadvertent arm brush. I actually welcomed the arm around me -- that was the most action I've gotten in months. Ha, just playin'.
While the crazy guy was talking and when he put his arm around me, everyone in the bar continually shot glances from the corner of their eye. I even made eye contact with two of bar patrons. It was my impression that as soon as we gave the head nod, and they would tell crazy guy to leave. Fortunately, however, he left on his own accord. Upon departure, he left Steve this cool bracelet. Bobby was gypped. And he left me a used, dirty...tennis ball...
You can read more by Jennifer here: http://jennifersblog85.blogspot.com/.
More by Jennifer MartinOperation: Cross the Border
Erbil - Old-School Iraq
Erbil by Day and Sulaymaniyah in the Evening
Amna Suraka (Red Security)
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