Iraq Travel Stories, Page 17

PETER IN ERBIL

The Brit arrived in Erbil.

The perfect traveler for Iraq. Extremely friendly and talkative.

He will talk with anyone. This is needed. A person here need to be the first

to say hello. I have no worries about him. He will do well.



I tried to convince him that he needs to go to Baghdad ahead of me

and blazen a clear cheap trail. He seems to think I should go first.

Therre has been some fun Brit - USA discussions.

I believe in the end we both agree. Both countries are good and bad.

At the same time, but generally trying to be good.


OPTIONS ON GOING TO BAGHDAD.

There are a few ways to go to Baghdad.



1. Bus.

2. Colective Taxi.

3. Private Taxi.

4. Go with friend I would meet in the north, but lives in Baghdad.

5. I suppose I could fly, but not an option.

6. Military Apache Helicopter (In my dreams only)

7. Caravan of Military Hummers.

8. Caravan of UN and Granola for lunch bunch, save the world types.



My choices are only:

1. Bus.

2. Colective Taxi.

3. Private Taxi.

4. Go with friend I would meet in the north, but lives in Baghdad.

The others are too dangerous. Well, not the Apache.

But I am dreaming there.



I will probably opt on the collective Taxi. This is so far the most normal way.

You walk up to "Garage" and say. Baghdad.

A guy sets you up in a taxi that almost full.

You decide on the price, and leave.



THE NOT NORMALCONCEPT

I will try to pay the taxi to take me directly to the next hotel in Baghdad.

I am telling you about a future trip in a week or less or more.

Tikrit is on the way. I would love to stop in Tikrit, but that is an organizational headache.

I may or may not get Tikrit done.


MY FIRST PERSON THAT DOES NOT LIKE THE USA

I was so excited to meet this guy I ran right to the internet to publish this in my blog.

There is a guy in my Hotel that does not like the USA and wants to go home.

I have been in Iraq for about 2 weeks, and this is my first person to encounter that does

not like the USA and shows it.



I stopped in the lobby of my Hotel to sit with my friend the owner of Shereen Palace.

He could be manager, but he seems like the owner. He knows about 5 words of English

and I know about 5 words of Kurdish. But we sit together daily and share a Tea.

He is a great guy.



He is a good host and invites people to sit down, shakes their hands and make

them at home. He is about 65 year old is my guess.



Well, I to go and sit down with him. There is a man sitting already with him.

The owner waves his hand in a very small way, but the staff immediately takes

care and brings me a Chi or Tea.



No the guy looks at me hard and says,

"What you do?"

This is good English in this country. Just the minimal number or words.

I say,

"I have webpage."

Then I say,

"Tourist."

He nods his head, and acts like he understands.

I have not had anybody understand the word "Webpage" yet, so

I know he is full of it.

He ask me where I am from, and says,

"Texas."

I say,

"Indiana"

Pointing at an imaginary map in the air.

I point at Chicago and say,

"Chicago."

I point at an imaginary mapy in the air at Detroit.

Lots of Iraq people in Detroit, so they know this place.

I say,

"Detroit."

Then I point in between and say,

"Indiana."

He is nodding his head, and is not the kind of person to admit he does

not understand, and being that I already think him a complete A@#$H24

Why would I care?



He still wants to know what I am doing.

I say,

"Take photos."

To be polite, and being my friend is next to me, and he is talking

wih the gentleman, I figure I should ask him,

"Where from?"

He says,

"Baghdad"

I say,

"I go Baghdad."

He shake his head and says,

"No good"

Then the clincher.

"Because America."



I am thinking... hmmm. Let me describe the guy.

He is like a fat policeman from Mexico that wants a bribe.

Arrogant and obnoxious. Probably has a little...?

But this guy has on the white typical south Iraq dress.

The long type shirt. Now this is not a pretty sight.

He must weigh at least 300 pounds.

Unshaved and red eyes, like his blood pressure is up.



I sit and drink my Tea.

This is a no win situation, so who cares.

He talks with the owner, and says,

"Go back America."

I say,

"Why?"

He stares. I wish the owner could have understood, he would have died

of embarrassment for this mans actions.

I ask him,

"Why Erbil?"

He says,

"Global Oil."

It took about 5 time of making him say this before I was sure I understood.

He works for Global Oil.

I was tempted to say,

"Are you up here to blow up the pipelines?"

But he was a soft target, he has big chip on his shoulder and was fat.



I made him repeat,

"Global Oil"

Let me tell you this. People from Baghdad and Arab are not really welcome

in Kurdistan. The let them come up, but I am sure they watch them closely.

The Arabs and the Kurdish have a long term dispute.

They are uncovering mass graves in Mosul right now of the Kurdish people

that Saddam killed. So this guy was suspect.

Well. I waited around for quite awhile. Just to let him know that...

But I was excited.

There has been no clear opinion, even in Mosul of people that do not

like the USA. This is the first.

There was 2 ex soldiers that said,

"Bush Shoe." But nobody says anything about the USA.

So I met my first.

Well... Global Oil?


BRING A FRIEND

I think to do Iraq and the Middle East you should

bring a companion. To me the worst thing about

these countries are not the heat. It the idea that

I have to always talk to men, which only think

about football. (Soccer) I sometimes think that is

the reason I am not keen on going to England.

An oversupply of men talking about football.


WHY I AM NOT A JOURNALIST.

There are some fine lines in life.

The others are quite clear.

This is easy.

A journalist lies for money.

I tell the truth for nothing.

A good traveler would never steer you in the

wrong direction. This makes it hard to even

say I bridge on being a travel writer.

Maybe the best way to say it is...

I have a group email that is hemorrhaging.


GRUMPY AND F#$$ YOU

I had two interesting Taxi drivers in the last

week. Upon leaving Erbil for Sulamania the taxi driver

somehow knew the phrase F#$$ YOU.



He started saying this as the taxi left.

When I left, the whole hotel staff came out to

say goodbye, then a group starts to form around the

taxi. So here I am getting into a taxi. The driver

is saying F#$$ YOU and pointing at me, and then saying

F#$$ YOU. Geeesh... please stop.



I hope that no one really understand this and thinks

it is me. He said this the whole way to the "Garage"

as the call the bus or taxi stop. Then we get out

and he starts to tell all the people at the "Garage."

I can say though he did a great job, and helped to

make sure I was safe, and paying the proper price.



GRUMPY

I get to Sulamania. Grumpy is my driver. I start to

say Grumpy please smile, and he just keeps being in

a bad mood. He takes me to the wrong hotel.

Luckily there was a person from Canada, that had

returned to visit his family. He spoke great English

and helped me turn Grumpy around for the right hotel.

He even called the Hotel. They said they was full and

there was no rooms.



I said to just get Grumpy pointed toward the city center.

The minute he got close to a hotel he dropped me off

and then left without a care in the world. The direct

opposite of F#$$ YOU.



I visited a few of the local hotels. Too much for the

type of room. The was 40 Kurdish Dinar rooms, or about

4 dollars. They wanted 100 Dinars so I walked to the

hotel I wanted in the start. Even thought they was

full, they mysteriously found a room when I sat down

and waited. It appears that the Hotels in Iraq are screening

all their residents. They say no, and it becomes yes...

Maybe. If you get no, and it remains no.

Could be a personal problem.


HOW DO I KNOW FEAR

I have been thinking.

How do I know if I am afraid?

Good question, but really is not that easy to decide.

I mean there are some clear reasons.

Like I will not go anywhere or do not leave a city.

The next would be too quiet or not smiling.

How about sleeping too much.

I definitely do not panic easily.

I can tell you none of these is me.



Natasha said something about the Male hormones raging

when under stress or fear. I think this may be true.

But as long as the women are dressed the way they are,

then I will have 0 problems.



At least the girls in the Islamic area of lower

Thailand would flirt. No play whatsoever here.

The again. I am probably more afraid of women then

of Iraq.


OLD CHEVY IN IRAQ

The Germans and the Japanese have the Iraqi car market sown up.

This is the most recent car I have seen from the USA.