Iraq Travel Stories, Page 26

LETTER FROM READER IN THORNTREE

EMAIL RECEIVED

are you in baghdad now.. 6 dollars is fine .. how do you get money if no ATM"s if i come it will be threw jordan.. do you agree.. do you need any supplys.. im looking to be a aprintice journalist... i have a security background.. but i blend in well.. i have ben to egypt 2 years ago..to many other places to list..how would you rate the danger.. have you had any problems.. what is your nationality.. thanks chad



ANSWER:

I brought USA dollars. About 30 for every day I wish to be here.

But 60 would be better.

Entrance through Jordan and Syria is OK.

But the softer entrance is from Turkey.

Start out easy and go in the difficult areas.

I do not know Baghdad. Everyone says not to go.

But I do know that from Mosul up is pretty much OK..



How would I rate the danger?

High but not very high, or extreme.

Like walking down a street in Lima, Peru at midnight.

Not for the panic type people.

Must be relaxed and ready to be friendly. Must disarm their suspicions.



I am from the USA. Born and raise. Cow country. Indiana.

Apprentice Journalist... I am not a Journalist.

I am a Hobo That makes a lot of noise.

Journalist get paid to do this. I get very small donations. If that.

But I do have the freedome to tell the truth, and not need to sell stories of crap.

Andy in Mosul


ENGLISH PROFESSORS WANT TO BE PART OF WORLD

These highly educated men want to be part of the world. They speak excellent English. They are looking for a way to welcome the world to their country. They are considering maybe becoming a sister city with a city in the USA. An exchange of culture and friendship. Anyone who reads this and would be interested. Please write me Andy at:



mosul@DELETETHIShobotraveler.com



This is real. They have been separated from the world for years.


Reply to question

Thanks for replying. I'm about two weeks behind you.



I have read that it's NOT a good idea for western males to travel together as they may be mistaken for coalition soldiers/special forces whatever and they may therefore become a target. I will not be wearing any shade of green or khaki in any of my clothing and although I need a haircut, I will wait until after Iraq. I just do not want to be mistaken for military at all. That could be a serious problem. What do you think?



I also speak about 200 words of Arabic. Do you think that's a good or a bad thing? Is it best not to speak any Arabic whilst there?

Thanks again,



My answer.

I agree about the haircut. Better to not look like a soldier.

The will assume you are CIA unless they get to know you, so I my opinion you must do your best to be a real person. I am a hobo more or less and cheap. People that pay a lot of money are being paid to come here.



The Arabic is good.

Say a few word, but be careful if they want to be too inqusitive in the Arabic language. Better to stay on the language you know in a country that is frustrated and looking for a reason.



When in doubt in any country. I suddenly can not answer any questions in the local lauguage. I am then just an ignorant American, they think I am stupid, and they are smart. This make them feel good and stops the problem. Fortunately in this country there is not the normal pile of corrupt policeman around to shake you down.


I WANT MONEY... NOW

Patience.









PILES OF MONEY

50 Dollars US.

Should we measure it by the inch or centimeter?

I was in Ecuador when the Sucre went to pieces.

I was in Mexico when the money doubled.

I was next to Argentina when the money collapsed.

Great for a traveler, terrible for a rich guy.

This the reason the educated... a.k.a. rich class is angry.



Life if difficult.

They all need to use the Euro and forget their own money.

Stability is needed, not a patriotic money.

Especially a man with a Turbin. Turbins are in a minority.

Turbins do not say ..Stability.

PHOTOS OF IRAQ MONEY - SADDAM IS ON THESE

http://www.hobotraveler.com/119money.shtml


A LITTLE INTELLECTUAL DEBATE - THE MOSUL WAY

Hello,
I went to dinner last night with 3 PHD holders
that are professors in Mosul.

A intellectually invigorating night of questions
and answers. Two cultures working through the mysteries
of the other and trying to come to a consensous.
We agree more than we disagreed.

They do not trust the USA. They are trying to
trust the USA, but are impatient. They want the
solutions now and not in the future. Not that
they really explained the specifics of the solutions
but in the end it money. They want money to live
and feed their families.

Lets take that back. They are all sort of chubby.
That sounds a little melodramatic. They want
the normal life style to resume.

I think that is a trapping of writing. We use the
coined phrases and they are in written language
intepretted literrally.

3 PHD's
1 was an ex Soldier and tearcher of English Grammar.
1 was a working... I should not say. It could cause
him problems. It is an important city job.
1 was a professor of English.

If you know me, then you know. I was on friendly
territory. My English is not good, and the last thing
someone needs to do is scrutinize my grammar.
But that is fate some days. It was a good night though
and they never once corrected my English. I often
have people from Foreign countries correct my English
or ask if the way I say a sentence is correct or
incorrect? My normal answer is,
"I have no idea if it is correct."

The world wants perfection and all we get is our best.
In a perfect world my best would be good enough.

I was met at my Hotel and we took a taxi to the
restaruant. It was a wonderful open air restaruant on
a busy University street. Full of men.
All men. Where are the women? Not allowed I guess.
But all men nonetheless. I feel a little bit guilty.
In the USA to not have women at a restaurant would be
to purposely discrimanate against them. So I am feeling
guilty like I cause this discrimination. I guess it is
there problem and not mine.

Under the moon.
Background noise of Taxis.
Lots of space and light.
There was a card table size table with a lounge bench.
There could be a group of 6 people very easily.
A very comfortable place.

My friend Hassan ask,
"Have you every been to a place like this?"
I almost said yes,
But then I stopped.
I have never been to a place like this.
All men, smoking water pipes, and playing cards.
But I said,
"I have never been to a place like this, but...
in every city in every countrie I enter there is a place
where people go to talk. Discuss whatever, a place where
the discuss the world. My father goes every morning to
the restaurant to talk with the local yocals.
So this place is common. No women is not common,
but this type of place is common."

The Ex-Soldier sits down in the middle of the bench.
A little too close to me. I think he is doing one
of them test. This is a test. For the next hour we
will see who you are? OK. So what another test in life.
He is little macho, but not very good at it, and does
not fit him well. He also is not macho in the American
sense. He gets in too close to see if I will pull away.
He does not stink, and is sort of jolly looking.
With a stern face. Greying a little. But chubby.
I pat his stomach, and compare his to mine.
Mine is too large presently, and is shrinking,
but now is a good way to endear myself with people.
Show them an imperfection, and they show me theirs.

What a conversations.
All in Arabic... hehehe. I lie.
I speak now about 5 words. Not a difficult language
but I am lazy, and tired of learning lauguage. It is
a duty of necessity and not of fun and curiousity.
I say it is easy, but I cannot speak it, so who knows.
We spoke in English. Remember, they are English teachers
and they love to use some of the big words.

I could write for hours and hours on this conversation.
The sparring, the questions. The answers.
We all agreed on:
1. Saddam was an asshole.
2. All the Soldiers with no jobs is not good.
3. That people are not perfect.
Hello,
I went to dinner last night with 3 PHS holders
that are professors in Mosul.

A intellectually invigorating night of questions
and answers. Two cultures working through the mysteries
of the other and trying to come to a consensus.
We agree more than we disagreed.

They do not trust the USA. They are trying to
trust the USA, but are impatient. They want the
solutions now and not in the future. Not that
they really explained the specifics of the solutions
but in the end it money. They want money to live
and feed their families.

Lets take that back. They are all sort of chubby.
That sounds a little melodramatic. They want
the normal life style to resume.

I think that is a trapping of writing. We use the
coined phrases and they are in written language
interpreted literally.

3 PhD?s
1 was an ex Soldier and teacher of English Grammar.
1 was a working... I should not say. It could cause
him problems. It is an important city job.
1 was a professor of English.

If you know me, then you know. I was on friendly
territory. My English is not good, and the last thing
someone needs to do is scrutinize my grammar.
But that is fate some days. It was a good night though
and they never once corrected my English. I often
have people from Foreign countries correct my English
or ask if the way I say a sentence is correct or
incorrect? My normal answer is,
"I have no idea if it is correct."

The world wants perfection and all we get is our best.
In a perfect world my best would be good enough.

I was met at my Hotel and we took a taxi to the
restaurant. It was a wonderful open air restaurant on
a busy University street. Full of men.
All men. Where are the women? Not allowed I guess.
But all men nonetheless. I feel a little bit guilty.
In the USA to not have women at a restaurant would be
to purposely discriminate against them. So I am feeling
guilty like I cause this discrimination. I guess it is
Their problem and not mine.

Under the moon.
Background noise of Taxis.
Lots of space and light.
There was a card table size table with a lounge bench.
There could be a group of 6 people very easily.
A very comfortable place.

My friend Hassan ask,
"Have you every been to a place like this?"
I almost said yes,
But then I stopped.
I have never been to a place like this.
All men, smoking water pipes, and playing cards.
But I said,
"I have never been to a place like this, but...
in every city in every countries I enter there is a place
where people go to talk. Discuss whatever, a place where
the discuss the world. My father goes every morning to
the restaurant to talk with the local yokels.
So this place is common. No women is not common,
but this type of place is common."

The Ex-Soldier sits down in the middle of the bench.
A little too close to me. I think he is doing one
of them test. This is a test. For the next hour we
will see who you are? OK. So what another test in life.
He is little macho, but not very good at it, and does
not fit him well. He also is not macho in the American
sense. He gets in too close to see if I will pull away.
He does not stink, and is sort of jolly looking.
With a stern face. Graying a little. But chubby.
I pat his stomach, and compare his to mine.
Mine is too large presently, and is shrinking,
but now is a good way to endear myself with people.
Show them an imperfection, and they show me theirs.

What a conversations.
All in Arabic... hehehe. I lie.
I speak now about 5 words. Not a difficult language
but I am lazy, and tired of learning language. It is
a duty of necessity and not of fun and curiosity.
I say it is easy, but I cannot speak it, so who knows.
We spoke in English. Remember, they are English teachers
and they love to use some of the big words.

I could write for hours and hours on this conversation.
The sparring, the questions. The answers.
We all agreed on:
1. Saddam was an asshole.
2. All the Soldiers with no jobs is not good.
3. That people are not perfect.
4. We all hope the USA finishes what they started.
5. The media distorts the truth.
They believe that they make the Arabs appear stupid
and I agree. I try to explain a free press and they
accept the free press and change the word from propaganda
to news for money. They call the BBC propaganda.
They do not get CNN here, but do get BBC so this is
why. I think the would call CNN the same.
I have picked up on my friends Nates words.
Commy News Network. Such good fun and sometime very
accurate.
6. We agreed the flat pancake bread that we wrapped
the kebob type beef was excellent. They had tomatoes,
onions, other veggies that I hate. But I will note
to put in the rolled up finger food.
7. They want the people to change Iraq. They are talking
about the soldiers. I said that the soldiers at not people.
Ooops. Yes they are, but more of trained killers. I use
these exact words. They have one goal to kill the enemy.
At least in my mind that is the goal I hope they have.
We agree that they are soldiers and trained to kill.
Not to rebuild countries.
8. Bremmer the USA leader of Iraq right now should have
maybe handled the firing of the military different.
They all agreed on this. I am 60 percent in agreement
with them. It only takes a few idiot soldiers to destroy
the whole bunch. Remember this is a bunch of idealist
Professors, and not really trained killers. At least
not on their day job.
9. We all agree that I was Christian. And they were Moslem.
This is always the first conversation in Iraq.
They want to know what religion you are?
I never think of myself as Christian, but it is the correct
answer. A wimp answer would be something else.
They want to talk to men and not women.
10. Suicide bombers are idiot.
I proposed that, and explained in my culture.
Random killing by wrapping bombs around themselves
is going to get their whole country demolished.
The soldier said,
"It only kills a few."
He sort of jumped back when I said,
"But in retaliation I would rather have them
wipe out your city then have son of mine killed."
The one of them pipe up,
"A nuclear bomb."
I said,
"No, I am making a point. We have a choice.
We do not have to be nice about a war. A war is to kill.
We could have erased Mosul off the map or Iraq of the
map and then there is not problem."
They all feel a little fear on this concept, and I do
not believe that they thought I could think that way.
The want war to be with rules. I want war with rules.

The funny statement of the night was a prodding question
by the Ex Soldier.
"Why was Saddam mad at the USA?"
He would not tell me the answer he wanted.
He kept asking the question.
He restated the question,
"Why did Saddam do what he did?"
I said,
"He is Suicidal."
They all started to laugh. I said,
"Only a crazy man would fight with the USA."
They sort of agreed on the crazy part.

He said the reason that Saddam was mad at Bush
and not Clinton was because Bush Senior gave the go
ahead to attack Kuwait. He then destroyed him.
So it was a sneak attack.
I said,
"We call that.. Conspiracy Theory."
Another great laugh.
We was all friend.
I got another free meal and life is good.
I am calling Iraq a
"No pay zone."
They will not allow their guest to pay.

They want me to tell someone what they think.
So I told you.

I tried to get them to tell me where Saddam was.
"We can all split the reward money."
The solder looked at me,
"He killed my mother and brother."
Gave me want of them deep eye probes.
Saying and I translate the eyes.
"If I could find him, I would take care of him."

They all agreed on the idea that maybe Bush was
an idiot. But I said all leaders are idiot.
The understand though that a leader has power
and did not get that power from being stupid.
They have a better understanding of power then
the western societies.

OK. My job is done. I told you.
I go to lunch at the Soldier house today.
We can talk about Weapons of Mass Destruction
and all sorts of fun things.


PHOTOS OF TRIP TO MOSUL

http://www.hobotraveler.com/119mosul01.shtml

http://www.hobotraveler.com/119mosul02.shtml

http://www.hobotraveler.com/119mosul03.shtml

http://www.hobotraveler.com/119mosul04.shtml

http://www.hobotraveler.com/119mosul05.shtml

http://www.hobotraveler.com/119mosul06.shtml

http://www.hobotraveler.com/119mosul07.shtml


WHAT HAPPENED FIRST DAY

I left to take a taxi from Dohuk to Mosul. The owner of this pharmacy thought it was better I take a bus, and cheaper. Sounded good to me so I went to what he called a "Garage" by taxi. It was bus stop that take middle size buses to Mosul. I had lots of fun and soon you will see lots of photos. I promise. I have all the photos ready, but forgot to bring them.

I paid the driver 10 Kurdish Dinar extra or maybe 1.25 and he took me to the Ninewah Palace Hotel. There are 2 of them. One that is very big I think and in probably the newest part of the city. I am not sure. But it is full of coalition forces, so I did not want to go there because it is probably full and very expensive. I go to the Ninewah Palace and they said,
"No single, only Suites"
I ask,
"How much?"
Looking at his eyes, I smelled bullshit.
I stood around and made everyone wait for me.
He had said the single room was 16 and the Suite was 100 dollars.
I gibber jabbered with the guy. He was not friendly. More of the I cannot be bother with poor people attitude.

Soon they find a single. Duh...Really. Your kidding me.
Normal crap in hotels. But normal.
This is suppose to have some Stars.
I looked at the room. On the lower end of Hotel 6.
But I did see a couple of Foreigners or western type people sittting around.

I then learned that he had 60 and not 16.
The sounds get clarified and this is said slightly confusing.
I will not pay for anything unless I write it down on paper, or first hold up the correct amount of money.

I thought 16 dollars was very possible, becuase the guy in Dohuk that recommended
the hotel said the price was 20. It may and I think it probably is for Arabs or Kurdish or any other names you can come up
with for people that live here.

The guy was getting frustrated wth me.
This is good.
This is how it works.
I am sure that on my forehead is a DOLLAR SIGN.
He is looking right at this DOLLAR SIGN.

I ask him,
"Are there other Hotel?"
Implying, safe and close.
He says or mumble, does not help.
The one in Dohuk were helpful.

MY Big FRIEND and sometime called "Donkey" by his friends
was waiting and trying very hard to help. He was willing to
take this small bus around Mosul like a taxi to help.
Very good guy. But just a Joe Blow guy and not rich.
But he wants me to like his country and be safe.
The reception guy wants the buck.
He is not going to budge on price and either am I.

PLAN B
I do not have a plan B, but it sounds good.
I look over at the Gringos. I cannot help but use this term.
Only way to describe so far. I will learn the local nickname for us.

There is an attractive woman and a Britich guy.
They both are having a drink and talking.
I say,
"Excuse me, I am from American and need a room."
The girl says she is going to Arbil and doe not know.
...(So much for sharing rooms.)
The Brit looks a little confuse, old, and one of them Britich types
that forgets to go home.
She recommend Arbil.
"The 4 Candles Hotel."
I take out my index cards and pen and write this down.
No time to lose a good tip.

She looks over at this Middle East guy. I do not know what to call them
I can not tell the difference that easily between Kurdish, Arabic, and others.
The beads in their hands give away the Moslems. But of no value in saying
from what brainwash they are from.

The nice Middle Eastern man is helpful.
She is talking Arabic with him, and I think to myself,
"I need some more time here ti find a guide.. hehehe)

He tell me...oops. He does not tell me, he writes down on my index cards
in Arabic that looks to me like a bird walked accross the address of a Hotel.
I put a little Arrow on the top, so I will not try to show to people upside down.

UP pops a taxi driver.
Lets go he says.
I look at MY big FRIEND.... a.k.a Donkey.
I trust him. He nod his head. I give more money to him.
He is special.

I look at the taxi driver.
"How much?"
Holding together my 2 fingers like I am holding money.
He looks.
Says nothing.
I look.
I say nothing,
He looks.
I raise my hands, shrug my shoulders.
He says in English,
"10 Dinar"
I say,
"Kurdish."
He nods his head.

We leave, and I forgot to grab my guide.
(She speaks Arabic.)
I say goodbye to all, the reception guys have
totallly forgotten to smile the whole time I am there.
The new Taxi driver is great.
Friendly and wants to talk English, or practice.

He takes me to this different Hotel.
Makes sure that I have a room.
It cost 6 Dollars a night.
The whole entrance area is SOLID MARBLE.
Make the other hotel look like a Holiday Inn.

The new hotel is on a very busy street.
Full of people, chicken, and noise.
The hotel is quiet. I am home.
Fan in the middle of ceiling a light.
Television in Arabic and a squat toilet.
I am debating if the rooms are air conditioned.
I think they are when the air catches up with the heat.

A man at the desk speak great English.
We walked over later to get some chicken.
I am a meat eater.
Go figure?

I had a very beautiful girl in the Playtypus Hostel
in Bogota, Colombia,
"You eat too much red meat."
Never understood exactly, but I get the idea.

I am in a much better place.
They apologize for the location.
I say,
"I came to visit the Iraqi people,
I did not come to visit a hotel full of Americans."
or worse yet... Journalist. Lying to make a living.
Life is good.
I got my pages published.

And tommorrow photos.
If all the good Gods of the Universe help
and I remember to bring the disk.
I forgot the one disk today.

OH yea. I have published the photos.
HERE IS MY FRIEND!