More of Dohuk
by Jeremy Star
I set out to see more of Dohuk and discovered a promenade along a waterway cutting through the city. I followed it upstream, passing weathered picnic tables and closed vending booths. The path was deserted and littered with leaves but it provided a shady haven from the bustling streets above. It featured a sculpture with its head removed and an oddly out of place and vandalized amphitheatre. Money had obviously been put into its creation but little into its maintenance or promotion.
The promenade ended abruptly, under an empty wooden structure where I startled someone crouching in the shadows. I said a hurried greeting and then climbed up to the road. I followed the water, now a natural river, out of town past more abandoned buildings. There was a walking track off to the right so I made for it, passing through a small ticket office where I paid a surprised looking guard the 500 dinar entry fee. The path took me up the side of a mountain to an archaeological site centred on a once inhabited cave. A rough track continued on and so did I.
The track soon petered out but I scrambled on up the rocky mountain side. Something I had read about landmines occurred to me but the top seemed tantalisingly close and spurred me on. After an hour of climbing I reached the top and was rewarded with a far reaching view of the sprawling city on one side and the Dohuk dam on the other. I took photos and then headed back down the way I had come. I was excited to see two figures in the archaeological site, thinking that perhaps they might be foreigners I could communicate with. As I got closer I realized they were a local couple and a gestured greeting was all that we could manage.
Two young men had joined the guard in the ticket office and they beckoned me to sit with them as I entered. When they discovered I was from New Zealand they wanted to see photos on my camera but all I could show them was Turkey and Iraq. There was great excitement as two people approached – one of them a woman! I played along, hurriedly sitting up straight and fixing my collar to everyone’s great amusement. A young local couple entered and paid the entry fee. As they left one of the men muttered, dirty, dirty and shook his head in reference to the woman’s tight-fitting jeans. He was heading back to the city so we walked together.
On the way my companion produced an identity card which revealed that he was an undercover policeman. When we reached Dohuk I suggested we stop for a pomegranate juice. I tried to pay but my money was waved away. As we left the policeman spoke to the shopkeeper but didn’t pay so I tried to again but he just smiled. I shook hands with the policeman who disappeared into the Bazaar and then I headed back to my hotel. The evening was filled with honking horns and gunshots which I later discovered was celebrating the re-election of local Jalal Talabani as the President of Iraq.
More by Jeremy StarInto Iraq
Impressions of Dohuk
Visit to Amedi (Amadiya)
Back Across the Border
Back to list of experiences