THE INFORMATION BELOW MAY BE OUT OF ORDER
But too hard to fix. Sorry.
I WILL GO SLOWER
For safety reasons I went pretty fast for me in Iraq.
Staying in one place is dangerous. People learn you habits.
But from now on, I am on vacation and a very price conscious
traveler. I have paid more for safety and spent lots of money
that I really do not have to help give you and me the most photos
and learn the most the quickest. It cost a lot. 4 times my normal
budget. Donations are appreciated. But I am safe and happy to
out of Iraq. The culture is very honest, and happy. But the Middle
East appears to be about 5 levels too high on my racist tolerance
level for me. I cannot lie to people or agree with crap, so this
makes it dangerous for me. I will have to visit the Middle East
about 5 times to fully see all the countries. I can only handle
about 2 months in the Islamic countries it appears before I start
to go crazy. They have small levels of tolerance for people that
are different, and I have small levels of tolerance for their
intolerance. In the end. I only want to be happy. I travel the
easy path. The Middle East is not the easy path. One big political
discussion. I am grateful in Iraq to not have to deal with the
European noise. It was great to be in a country that loves Americans.
It reminded me of Colombia. The country loves and welcomed me.
There were very few travelers outside of Bogotá, and Cali and I could
enjoy meeting people and have a nice life. Life is political. I must
pay attention for safety and other reasons. But sometime it is just plain
The other day after we go back in the car at the roadblock in Basra
Chris starts going on about the Soldier recommending we go to the Palace
and get a permit to carry a gun. The Soldier recommended we carry a gun.
Now whether this is correct or incorrect is a lot story. But we was
at this moment surrounded by Iraqi people that may have guns. Chris
starts to say that this is irresponsible and that we need training and
all sort of other stuff. I am wanting to slap him again. Shut up.
If a person comes at you with a gun. You go get a gun.
We are not coming at them with a gun, so they do not go get a gun.
All this type of discussion is not high priority and just stupid
when we are surrounded by Iraqi people in the middle of the night
on a vacant street in Basra, Iraq.
I find that the smarter the people the more stupid they are!
They do not get clear on what to do, they become entangled in their thoughts.
Sometimes I really do think a good slap would wake them up.
The world is still a violent place, and the intellectuals are still
too easy to control. When will they intellectualize enough to learn
that they are easy to control?
ISTANBUL AND PLANS
I will start to look for either a plane ticket or a train
ticket to Paris. It would be nice to take a train. But I am
worried about Visas. Not sure if possible or cheap?
The plane is easiest.
I am staying in a Hostel called the Antique.
It is 7 dollars USA a night or 10,000,000 Million Liras.
I live in dorm room and have to type on the computer outside
the room in the early morning. There is NO locker of any sort
and the Sultan Hostel was better in this way. They are friendlier
here, and there is not bar attached. This is good, but the locker
situation is bad. I believe that security of valuable should be
priority number one in any hotel. It is never priority number one.
A bed is priority number one, but all hotels have beds. (Most)
I am tired of paying 10-20 dollars for room.
I can pay 2-4 in Thailand or South America and have lot
better room. In South America I can have a better time also.
I will stay with a friend in Paris. I hope it is OK. There are
lots of small problems when visiting a friend. The biggest problem
is that they want to show me everything. I only like to look at
things about 2 hours a day. After that I am bored. Plus make
life stressful to be a tourist all day.
I am not sure why? But the teeth in Iraq and
Turkey can be come of the dirtiest and yellowiest
I have ever seen. I would say it is the cigarettes.
But often the kids will have this also.
Only in the lowest development do they not brush their teeth.
It could be possible. Iraq and Turkey have parts that are
economically highly developed and socially at the bottom.
RACISM IS RAMPANT
If you are Turkoman?
If you are Assyrian?
If you are Christian?
If you are Sunne?
If you are Shiite?
If you are different?
They could kill you. This really happens in
lot of these Middle East countries.
RUGS IN IRAQ
To make cheap rugs you need cheap hands.
People have to get paid nothing. Like Pakistan,
India, or Thailand. I did not see many rugs in Iraq.
I think they get paid too much and this is out of fashion
this type of work. The Kurdish people in the East of Turkey
are poorer I believe and would make better and cheaper rugs.
Iraq is rich in most ways.
BAGHDAD TO ISTANBUL IN 1 1/2 DAYS.
Left at 6:30 AM from Baghdad.
Arrived in Istanbul, Turkey the next day at 5:00 PM.
1 collective taxi driver
The drivers in Iraq like to holler at each other.
The will pull along at the side of car and give the
driver a raise hand.
My driver said to me. 15 Boxing.
25 No Boxing.
I think he learned the word from the TV.
But he meant.
If you want to box for it you can get it cheaper.
We did not box. He was testing. What a macho world we
live in and it is always a test.
ROOM IN BASARA
Me and two Brits Chris and Peter went to Basra together.
We shared a Hotel room the first night. I was suppose
to be a 4 star. I would say 1 star. Still no fitted sheets.
But it did have air conditioning 24 hours a day.
The cost was 15 dollars a person for 3 people in a double
room. Not a good hotel for the price. Ayaka or something
like that. Many reporters appear to stay there.
We found a room for 10,000 Saddam Dinars.
That is about 6 dollars a night. I got a room to myself
so I could use my computer in the morning. Peter and Chris
shared a room.
It is now about 5 or 6 a.m. in Basra. The hotel has
had no electricity for the whole night. The temperature
in the room are about 100. Wait, I think the light of the
computer will shine enough to see my thermometer.
The temperature in the room is 103 degrees Fahrenheit
or about 40 decrees centigrade. I have not slept well.
Drank a whole bottle of water and am soaked with sweat.
The room is closed up and read for air conditioning. It
has air, but no electricity. This is a minus 1 star and
I will not take a photo of the toilet. Too much.
It is a safe hotel and that is good.
I am leaving at sunrise for Baghdad. As soon as I can
pack my bag with sunlight. I will do so and leave. I am
going to knock on the door of Peter and Chris. They may
have changed their minds after this night.
(I ended up not knocking. They seemed too asleep.)
Last night I got in an argument with Chris. We ate chicken
and drank pops, and tea with some locals. The bill came at
the end and it was higher then expected. Chris started to raise
his voice and was very accuser. Like they was cheating us.
They were probably, but that is normal, so why get upset?
Walking away after paying the bill. A boy comes ups
and starts to say we owe more money. He does not stop.
A lot of people come up. This like a small mob of people.
Not a good scene. Chris is still getting too excited. I am
not saying anything just looking at the guy. He does not
speak English and I do not speak Arabic. And I wish Peter
and Chris would not even try. They just make the situation
worst. They speak one word, and the people reply with twenty.
The locals do not understand but now believe that we do.
Chris is getting really loud and excited.
Normally I would just walk away. But there is a big crowd
following us, and the boy is not stopping. I turn around
and go back and sit at the table. A man at the table takes
over in our defense. He is a jerk also and probably the
reason we are having trouble in the first place. When you sit
down with locals it is common to have to pay for parts of their
meal or other things. It is the problem of sharing a meal with
people that consider themselves poor. They were not poor,
but anyone from another country is rich, when you are told
all your life you are poor.
The whole thing ended. We did not pay anything more. The
boy walked up and washed his hands in front of our face.
We now have a small enemy in a place that wants to kill us.
I walk about 30 yards. Chris starts to run his mouth.
I grab him on both arms and told him to shut up. He just
keeps running his mouth. I said,
He is young and believes in some idealist proposition in his
head that because he does not want to fight he is not going to
fight. I just about slapped him. He needs to learn that violence
is not a choice. It can happen to you even when you turn away
or do not want it, or will not fight. I proceed to tell him
more and he is just talking and talking. I will not go further
explaining. He is good kid, but stupid in ways of real life.
But I do not think he learned anything.
The problem with people today. They can no longer think.
The make a series of comments and cannot gleam of the essentials.
I was trying to explain to him that when a tempo of an argument
and the noise level is rising. Just stop talking and it will
lower. If you raise your voice, the others will raise and back and forth.
I do not mind hollering at a person. Especially one on one.
But this situation was a group of 30 people.
I had a similar discussion with Chris this morning.
Chris and Peter went and looked for a hotel while I worked
on my computer. When they came back Chris walked into the room.
"Did you find a good room?"
He started to compare and talk and explain.
"Did you find a safe Hotel?"
He starts rambling and talking and thinking too much.
"I just want a yes or no?"
He says yes, but continues to ramble. I say to him.
"Does it feel safe?"
He is rambling again. I am feeling the pain of dealing
with foolishness. The real problem is that he does not
want to be responsible. I finally push him till he says
it is safe. I believe he thinks it is safe. If I believed
different I would not be in this hotel now. It was a good
choice except for the condition of the electricity in Basra.
We now know the conditions of the people of Basra.
This may be normal for them, and I think all the tenants
are sleeping on the roof.
The electricity goes on and off a little more in Basra.
But it appears to be about the same. I think at night in
Basra they turn it off for about 8 hours and do not turn
it back on though. It is hard to determine in the whole country.
Including Kurdistan because they almost all have generators.
Especially the hotels. But if you stay in a hotel that is real
cheap. Sleep on the roof.
ON THE TRAIN TO BASRA
1000 Saddam Dinars or 50 cents USA.
Not bad for 400 plus kilometers.
Probably the cheapest way to travel from Baghdad to Basra.
And probably the safest, hottest, longest, most interesting, and dangerous.
Best and worst of all things. This is an adventure.
Transportation is very simple in Iraq. Say "Garage. X and they will
get you to the collective taxi, bus, or ground transportations.
The train is a little different. But the same idea.
So if we want to go to Basra by Taxi or Bus we say, "Garage Basra."
or "Train Basra" They do not understand the word train.
But they do understand very easily the word garage. This is the
word in Arabic.
How shall I describe the trip? HOT, or WET.
Interesting and worth the trip, but who wants to do it again?
It was wet because we sweated so much. Felt like walking
around in soaked clothing. I can easily recommend a dress
like the locals. Cool and dries fast. Or very light dress type
pants like the locals. Light and dry fast. JEAN are a pain.
The normal travel pants are good, but say..."I am foreigner."
Not that we can hide. Not possible, but maybe if you look
dark haired and dark skinned.
They sat across from us and stared. Peter had a young ugly kid
looking at him most of the trip. I was fortunate to have a young
and beautiful shy girl looking at me for most the trip.
Chris was sort of left out of the stare.
So 12 hours of being looked at by our partners in looking at each other.
Peter is getting quite impatient and rude in the end.
I am afraid to look at the girl that is staring because the mother
or father may catch me and think the worst. So I spend the whole
time thinking about taking a photo of this girl, but very afraid
to do so for possibly violating a local tradition or custom.
Actually in the USA I would not even consider looking or being
in this circumstances. I would leave for fear of going to jail.
This is a good thing about the other countries. The people have
a brain enough to know that just because you talk with children
you are not a pervert. In the USA I refuse and will not talk with
children in the streets, parks, or anywhere, unless they are hand
in hand with parents. This is really sad about the USA.
But we had fun, and I did get a couple of OK photos of the girl.
She was the perfect model and sat there playing with her hair,
twirling in her finger, and touching her forehead. Adjusting
her face, earring, and such. What a temptation to photo.
The train had air conditioning but never quite caught up
with the heat. At the stops it would climb. I think the
high was around 40 degrees Centigrade or about 115 Fahrenheit.
Hot but OK. Not humid. Sweaty hot, but not stuffy.
Of course we complained.
After dark. In the middle of nowhere. No taxis waiting.
Standing around on the curb waiting in the dark.
Peter and Chris are both joking and making light of
the situation. But I am sure this is the classic,
"Do not do this situation."
I know that we are sitting ducks ready to be shot.
If they wish us shot. The people are not friendly.
Helpful, but not overwelmingly friendly. Cool reception.
A guy drives up. I hold up 1, then 2 then, 3, then finally 4
Saddam 250 Dinar notes. Peter has a note that more or less
says to take us to the center to a cheap hotel. He keeps
trying to say the phrase, and I sort of holler.
"Give him the note to read!" I am getting frustrated with the
wanna talk Arabic crap. If you do not really speak clearly.
If they do not understand you immediately? I finally set
down a rule in the taxi. "No ARABIC" Only English.
He knows where he is supposed to go. The driver was trying
to find a bigger fare. Trying to ask questions and takes us
on a black city in a car with very little light, and 2 Brits
and one American that are totally lost. He also wants a cigarette.
I can understand that, but none of us smoke so he is having
a nicotine attack.
Chris and Peter are elated. Brits. There is camaraderie
and expatriate type, drink a beer, kiss each other attitude
among Brits in other lands. They will instantly try to talk
about David Beckem and other things of what it is to be British.
Peter wants to drink a beer with them of course. I always
connect Brits with beer, and drinking too much.
But the roadblock is business and there are about 10 soldiers
Stopping all the cars, and opening all the trunks, and such
to search for something that is not clear.
We all get out of the car for various reasons.
I do not like to be in a car and not be able to see who
is coming or walking around the car?
Let me tell you the background on Peter and me with the
British soldiers. He has been going on and on about how the
British solders are better trained and more knowledgeable
and better equipped to deal with other countries and basically
the Yanks are Wanks. I consider it racist to think that mentally
they are different, and that is what he proposes. I am sure he
is correct. The British are used to dealing with other countries
and the USA is not. But this is cultural indoctrination and not
An inherent mental capacity.
We have a goal at the Road Block. Or at least I have a goal.
I want to know,
"What is the name of a safe cheap hotel?"
The soldiers have no idea. They do know where most of the hotels
are located. Something like Ashtar. I think it means city center.
"We do not speak Arabic!"
We want them to talk to the Taxi driver. I am sure that Peter
and Chris are totally incompetent in dealing with Arabic, although
like anyone with the 10-50 word vocabularies. They delight in using
it not to any benefit. The do have the hello down. But so do I.
I ask the British Soldiers,
"Where is your translator?"
I want to talk with the Translator. Get him to tell the driver about
a hotel and help guarantee the Taxi driver takes us to the correct place.
The soldier says,
"We do not have one."
I start to holler. I stop myself. We are at a roadblock. They have
guns, and all sorts of 2 way radios, and mikes on their mouths and
communication equipment. We are 3 backpackers.
I stay calm, and say very sternly to this boy.
"Why don't you have a translator?"
The background on this is this. I have now been in this country as this point
for 30 days. When you see soldiers, you see translators. You can sometimes
see one soldier just sitting around and they introduce you to their
translator. Here is a very stupid, dangerous, and cluttered dark, no lights
for this city roadblock. They are trying to give orders to frustrated
tired, and hot Basra people to open their trunks. But there is nobody
to translate or talk. This is a circle jerk. Cluster Fuck. This is dangerous.
An argument is not an argument when you do not speak the same language.
It is just an expression. I have the gun. You obey.
The drivers are all arguing. The soldiers are calm. But this is
an explosive situation without the proper ability to communicate
in the same language. It is the black of night and a traffic jam.
We leave and the driver starts doing another of his verbal attacks on Chris.
Not a mean attack. An onslaught of words in Arabic and English.
He has Chris sort of flustered, and tries to make better ground.
He pulls over. I am on the left back. Peter is in the Right back.
Driver in front with Chris on the right passenger side.
We are hot, but I must say. I thought this is lots better then the train.
I am leaning forward to try to get them all to go slow. (Talk slow)
The tempo would rise, then rise a little more. Get it down.
Too much, too much.
I lean back. Start to put my arm on the door.
Srrchreechrued.. That is the sound of a bus ever so lightly
side swiping the car, and tearing the mirror of the driver’s side,
and making me very appreciative suddenly that I still have a hand
or arm. I am always fearful of this happening in other countries.
They can pass with only an inch to spare.
The drive takes off following the bus. Come up on the bus,
passes the bus, pulls in front and slows until the bus stops.
They get in position. I am hoping in this country this type of
situation is handled without guns. Never know? We do NOT know
Basra and the mood or language.
Both drivers get out and start a discussion. It is this and that
and all sorts of noise, but there is not resolution. They do
not have insurance and this is going to be settled in the street.
It was the bus driver’s fault, so our driver is trying to get money.
So me, Peter and Chris sit inside the taxi. In a jet black city
with no light, on a street where we do not even have a clue where
we are located. Obviously too far to walk. Two Arabic guys in
dresses are arguing, and I cannot see anything because of headlights
that keeps shining in the windows. A crowd of people starts to form.
I am getting nervous and the driver does not care about our safety.
He wants his mirror paid for.
I say to Peter and Chris,
"How much do you want to pay for the mirror?"
The do not understand.
"The mirror is broken. Until this driver gets money he is not
going to leave. How much are you two willing to pay to be safe?"
They do not understand me at all. I decide to take another tact.
I will get out of the car and try to find a price. Plus I am going
to look for another taxi. These situations happen constantly in
other countries. The only way to get the taxis moving is to start
to leave. They want their fare so will get back in and leave.
Most Taxi drivers are abusive in the end. They will make you wait
while they go and dork their girlfriends. Almost anything they want.
If the meter is running, so what? I never accept a meter reading.
I almost always try to negotiate a price. A great way to get cheated
is with a meter.
OK. I stand up out of the car. There are maybe 10 guys. Remember Iraq
does not have women. Only hidden. I scan the area. Chris and Peter
are staying in the car. I do not see any hostile faces. Mostly friendly,
but it is dark and hard to see at a distance. Cars are passing. In
other countries of the world they do not slow down for car in the street
they just swerve. Caution is not normal for about 80 percent of the world.
They start to talk to me. I ignore them and do not look at them. I do not
want them to think I hear them or realize they are talking to me until
I can see the whole area and make sure it is safe. No one speaks English.
There comes one man and tries to speak English. He is pretty good and I keep
saying "Otel" (Hotel). He says,
"You want taxi?"
The driver is involved in an argument. I walk up to him. Just to let him
know I am there. I am about a head taller then him. I know he needs
The man that speaks English ask,
"Ameriqui" (This is how they say America)
I look at Chris and Peter in the car, and say,
"Britanica." This is Britain in Arabic thought process.
They are excited to hear this and are very helpful.
I am starting to get another taxi, when the driver gets a clue.
There also comes up 2 or 3 policemen with guns. They always have
some type of machine gun or military rifles.
The driver decides it is time to leave. He knows he is going to
lose his fare. I decide to get back in the car, as the driver start
to get back in the car. I sit inside the car. The minute that I am
inside the car the driver goes again to start arguing.
Chis and Peter start to talk,
"I am from Italy."
"I am from Canada."
They say this is important.
I am thinking to myself. Hmmm too late now, and I am not a good
liar. Smoozer yes, and charmer yes, but liar no. Plus hard to
Coordinate a lie. Hard to remember a lie. Plus for me.
They really like Americans so why would I lie.
But I am realizing suddenly the real picture.
This is stressful and dangerous. They would deny this I am
sure, but it appear that Chris has been talking when alone
in Italian with the locals. Peter I think goes with the situation.
If safe he is almost always British. Chris was in Mosul by himself
and he said the owner of the Hotel knew he was British but in the
streets he talked Italian.
I am laughing to myself and thinking again. What a bunch of crap.
No direct contact made.
I will editorialize a little.
I came here to see how they like Americans.
Peter, Chris, JJ, and Me are all here to learn about the country.
But I can honestly say, when they ask,
I am tempted to say Holland or German. I know these countries
have been sticking they finger up these people @## for years
and have been filling them full of lies and @#$%.
So they have a business relationship of sorts.
But in the end. The Arabic people are very very Macho.
They holler at each other, and joke, and shove around.
Not a place for wimps. So business is a sort of prostitution
in many ways in these countries. The person lies to the other
the other person lies to them. They both agree to believe the lie.
I always say American. I have a couple of time pretended to not
understand the question. If they seem very hostile. This has only
happened once or twice. Outside the hotel in groups. I would be walking
by a group of people and they would holler,
I would just keep walking.
But one on one or in small cluster. I say Ameriqui.
Good way to get free Chi (Tea) or to see the look in their eyes.
I want to see the look in their eyes. In their eyes is the truth.
When I say Ameriqui.
They smile. That is all I need to know. 95 percent of the time.
It is common for travelers to lie. Very very common.
There is no one to call them on the rug. They can feed the locals
any kind of crap they wish. Funny thing about people. I sometimes
think it is more common to lie then to tell the truth. Especially
if there is a benefit, or perceived benefit. I like to tell the
truth. I feel that I can get a loyal friend faster. People sense
lies and bullshit. The feel the lie, and trust is hard to get.
People may not like my country, but they respect honesty. Even
if they are a liar they want honesty from the other.
I came to Iraq to learn opinions and concepts.
I wonder to myself. Who is brave enough to walk into a crowd?
without a gun and a body guard and say,
"I am from America."
I have found that only Peter; Chris and Me do not have bodyguards.
Either did JJ and Born Again Bob. A couple of business guys
and three Italian girls. But most in some way or another. Especially
if they are reporters have bodyguards. The Lonely Planet Thorntree
is full of people recommending body guards, and I think body guards
looking to make money. But how can you learn an honest opinion with
a gun in your hand? I would fill you full of crap also. Or get mad
and tell you to leave! Get the idea?
Who wants a guy with a gun around?
So all of the information you see on TV is suspect. Most peoples
opinions are suspect. You put a camera on someone or tell them
you are a reporter, and they will start spewing off information
that they heard on television. They want to be part of the gang.
They do not want to be the minority. But in the end. The eyes tell me
the truth. One on one and impossible to prove.
Back to the story.
The taxi driver takes us to a hotel. Peter gets out to check the price.
Chris and me decide this taxi driver is dangerous. Pay him, and go
inside also. There is a bunch of men in long shirts ready for bed.
Typical dress. They are not happy. I start to work the crowd.
No reaction. Not good. Not even a break of the face.
When we get to the reception desk. The have said no room.
We are standing around. Then we start to ask about other hotels.
There is not room. Suddenly there is a room or suite.
Peter goes to check. It is OK.
The manager makes a telephone call. There is again no room.
The screen everyone, and I think they decided no way for us.
We get the name of a hotel.
We go through a bunch of crap to get there.
100 dollar a night.
The think we are stupid. I walk out and Peter and Chris are
rambling. I have no idea why people want to argue about price.
I would have argued if it were in the realm of reality.
Like maybe 40-50 dollar. Negotiate. But a person that wants
100 dollars in Iraq is a thief. I do not want to live in hotel
There are a lot of hotels. We stop and bounce off another for
various reason. We get pointed at what I learn later is the
foreigner hotel. The manager greets us. The reception area is
beautiful. He speaks English. The room is 35 dollars for 2 people
and 15 for an extra person. The guy wants too much in many ways.
We get him down to 45 for 3 people in a room. He wants to keep
our passports and 100 deposits. I say no way to the passport
thing. I do not trust hotel as far as I can throw the hotel.
The manager does not like my firm actions.
I sit down with him, and we talk. I explain,
"A hotel will take the passport. Hold it until we pay more."
"We are an honest hotel."
"The all say that. I keep my passport."
He calms down, and wants me to eat in the overpriced restaurant.
Peter and Chris come down and we go out on the street to eat.
He tells us to be careful. His selling fear, and he could not
get the outrageous prices out of the reporters that stay in
this Hotel if it was safe to eat on the streets.
I get angry when we go up to the room.
This has a 4 star entrance and 1 star room. It is really bad.
Have air, but nothing else of consequence. I have stayed all
over the world for 2 dollars in this type of room.
The guy is a thief and a liar. Ayatan or something like that is
the name of the hotel. In the morning we meet a Reporter with
driver from the London Financial Times or something like that.
He explains that this is number 2 on the list of place to stay.
I would say (to get screwed). Peter, Chris and me all agree
that this is a ridiculous hotel when there are about 20 hotels
in the area. But it is probably safe.
The go look for a cheap hotel. I work on the computer.
I know these two. They will get a grungy hotel. There are
two varieties of hotels in Iraq. Clean and expensive or cheap
When the get back I tell them. I am going to borrow one sheet
from the Hotel Permanently. I do not want to sleep or have to
sleep on some of the crap I have seen. I explain in a lot of
juicy rationalization that I would not do this if the owner
last night had not talked for 20 minutes to me of complete
lies while I was waiting for the passports. This is the problem
about a lie. People may get their money back...hehehe
I wish I knew the exact name of hotel to tell the world as
best I can. This place is crap.
OH well. Life goes on. Iraq is one of the most honest countries
I have ever traveled inside of in the last 7 years. But at the
top end or total tourist end they are a bunch of liars and prostitutes.
The will tell you anything for a dollar. But this is normal in
all countries. At the street level though in Iraq you can hand them
your money and they will count out the correct amount. They
do not spend all day dickering over price. They say,
"As you like."
The price can often be as much as you wish to pay.
Whatever is fair Not that we know what that is?
CONVOYS IN IRAQ
If you want a grenade in you lap.
Ride in a convoy.
THE BUS TRIP TO BAGHDAD
How do I make a bus trip exciting?
This was just a run of the mill bus trip.
The only thing that happened on the bus trip is a translator
on the bus that works for the coalition told Peter for 2-3 hours
and Peter being from Britain went along with this guy while
he told Peter that the USA is stupid. I discussed it a few
times but when you are talking with racist people that are
either from Britain or Muslim. They have already made up their
minds and no amount of talk can stop racism. Usually take
a war or riot. But in the end I told the Iraq guy he was
and asshole. He was very happy when I took his picture.
He was an asshole. He got very mad a me, and said I was
a bad man. You insult me... I say you are correct.
He got fired from the Coalition. He said, "I quit."
But does anyone every admit they got fired.
TWO SEPARATE PATHS
Iraq is a normal country. There are rich and poor people.
It is a normal class system world country. I would say about
90 percent of countries are like this. This is a concept that is
almost impossible for the Western world to research or understand.
There are 2 reasons for this.
1. We believe the people of the world want justice, fairness.
2. We believe they want freedom and democracy.
Saddam in a way had completed freedom. He and his sons could do
anything they wished. Kill, steal, torture etc.
This is freedom.
Democracy is only understood by a person or nation that has
lived in one for about 60 years. In reality very few countries
England, Canada, USA, Australia, and maybe a few of the
Scandinavian countries. All the other countries are a
water down version and have trouble understanding.
The world wants other to be fair with them, but they
want the right to cheat on their taxes. They would cheat
the government, but they not want the government to cheat them.
But then they get a job in the government and it is normal
to cheat on their taxes, so they just continue to cheat.
What people want in a dictatorship?
They want to be the dictator.
That is the path of richness.
Information problems in Iraq.
You would think that the better educated a person was in
Iraq that the better they could explain their country.
But if you think about the above ideas. What is really the
case is they explain the world as a rich educated person.
That is trying to guarantee that he or she can return to the
top of the stack.
So when I when I listened to the English Scholars in Mosul
I would hear a sort of underlying crap of do not talk to the
poor people. They actually tried very hard to not let me
associate with the poor. The could not believe that in the
hotel I would go over to the chicken shop and shoot the shit.
Why would he want to talk with them?
Now if you are a "First Class" traveler. You sit up there
to get away from the normal class. Why?
I am not saying that luxury is bad. I am in a very good
luxury hotel right now. It is great. Few more women and
it would be wonderful. But it is nice to be pampered.
But I miss the normal people of Mosul in the chicken shop.
I do not miss the Scholars. They kept parading me around
to show to their friends and as a spectacle. It was like
bringing a movie star over to visit. I kept asking,
"Do you know what a Hobo is?"
I think not.
Blah, blah, blah in the end.
A country is 90 percent poor.
10 percent rich.
Most reporter and tourist talk with 10 percent.
They are afraid and really they despise the dirty
and poor of the world. Not the really poor. They are beggar
and will say anything they want, and will make them feel
good because they can help them. But the average prideful
person on the street. That is not begging and really does
not give two hoots about them. Why would they talk with
them. They talk with the rich here in Iraq that is now
poor because the Saddams nipple is gone. Or they talk
with the poor and say how the world is an asshole.
I am sitting in a cluster of people here that are afraid
to go talk with people. They are reporters. I have already
visted more places in Iraq then any of them. They wait
until there is a killing. When the USA military has the place
totally safe. They go and report. A taxi trip is relative
safe here. You are a moving target and hard to pin down.
Something that is stationary like the UN is a much better
and easier target. Or a Caravan of Toyota land cruisers or
the absolute easiest because I see so many is the Soldiers.
The are driving around in hummers with their head popped out
the top. All you have to do is throw a grenade at them or
shoot a gun.
PETROL ON FLOOR
I was reading in my Bradt Travel Guide to Ira
on page 173. saying,
"Hotel lobbies can reek of petrol. It is cheaper
and less precious than water if frequently used
for cleaning floors."
This may be incorrect.
I was watching television on the fleas in the
desert areas. Well in Iquitos, Peru they put
oil on the floor and it is very precious.
But it helps to keep the fleas and mosquitos
away, and is cheap for this, although again
it can smell. But to find out. I would need
to ask a few people. This can take days and
days to find people that will be able to grasp
the reasons and concepts and explain truthfully.
Went to the border of Iraq and Turkey this morning. There is a sign or a small something. Maybe a town at the border called Habur. There was a line of petro trucks about 1 kilometer long waiting to enter. I am told they take Liquid Propane Gas and Benzene into the country and return with crude oil. This is not confirmed. Just and interpretation by Turkey man.
I got in a colectivo taxi. There was a vendor boy trying to help me. He said the price was 750,000 Lira or about 50 cents USA. But at the end the driver wanted 1 Million. As soon as I got out of the Taxi I was at the front of the line of trucks. There was a Turkey Military office in front of me, and the 1 kilometer line of petro trucks behind me. I turned around and took a very quick photo of the trucks before the guards would want to talk with me. I turned back around and they came runner over giving me order in the Turkish language.
I had my Camcorder and Sony Mavica camera inside my small backpack and was using my Creative Webcam camera. It was very cheap, and very small. Perfect for dodgy areas.
The young soldier grabbed my camera and took it.
Giving me order in Turkish language and by his hand to follow.
I smiled and followed back to the checkpoint office.
Suddenly about 5 soldiers were around me all talking in Turkish.
It may have been Kurdish language, but I can not tell the difference.
The called a higher ranking officer. None of them was older than age 30, and probably more like 20.
The commander spoke a few English hotels. I pointed at the truck. Pointed at the camera, then I held up 1 finger trying to say,
"I only took one photo."
The camera is a webcam and sort of silly looking. It is not a big Nikon with a zoom.
So the gave me the camera back.
Ask which hotel I was in, and my name.
I said, "Andy"
The then shook my hand started to smile and introduced all the soldier to me.
I tried to pronounce the names. The all relaxed.
I told them I was from America.
The do not understand the words "United States."
The pointed at a collectivo taxi... Like go back that way toward Silopi.
Meaning, I want permission to cross.
I have some friends at the hotel that could come and translate.
But I did not learn much and strangely. I did not see any sign of American soldiers.
There is supposed to be UN vehicles crossing. But I have not seen any.
It was fun. The people are much more nervous meeting me, then I am meeting them.
But than again. I meet new people every day, all the time. This is normal for me.
I hopped in a collectivo VAN and road back toward Silopi.
A boy collected 750,000 and I was happy.
I tapped the driver on the back to stop when I saw the sign that led to Habur and Zoho, Iraq.
I jumped out. Almost fell over a truck batter. Waved goodbye.
Walked over to a milelage sign.
I belived it said.
I have photos and will put one up to view soon.
The Zoho is in Iraq.
This is an oil border.
I am also going to have to oil the works by finding a taxi driver or local to help
me converse wth the border officials.
There are some seedy types hanging around that wish to help me.
I will find a nice person and get the owner of the Hotel to give him the OK.
Than go for another bounce off the border.
I will do this until they know me, and laugh.
The will probably make me drink Tea.
I cannot leave the hotel without people offering or inviting me in for Tea at least 2 times.
I wish I liked Tea.
I have been walking around this small city.
I am in the what I think is the most expensive Hotel in the city.
15 dollars per night.
Air and BBC and Tea served on a minutes notice.
But... No one seems to leave the city.
This is a wonderful city. Full of normal culture.
Working and living their lives.
But all the residents act as if there is nothing to do.
Strange. This place if full of interesting people that love to talk.
Too bad I do not talk Kurdish.
PURCHASED TURKEY / ENGLISH DICTIONARY
I purchased a dictionary this morning. I wanted a Kurdish / English dictionary.
The said the only have Kurdish / Turkey dictionaries.
It almost appears like the world discounts the Kurdish population.
With both... I could decipher a word very slowly.
The purchase cost me.
I had to sit and talk, and drink another tea.
This seem to be the cost of any purchase.
I need to have a chat.
Small price, and I am getting a great value.
I sent out my weekly when I get around to it Newsletter.
It has all the pictures I took in the last week.
SNAFU an appropriate acronym
Maybe you have a wild hair. Here is my telephone number.
I am in room 107
011 to leave USA
011 90 486 518 13 79
011 90 486 518 42 28
There is an outside possiblity of
011 0090 etc.
The business card the have is not correct.
They do not speak English well.
Say... Andy Andy Andy or American American hehehe
I am ýn a very nýce Hotel on the border
15 Kilometers more or less.
It is full of Business men or boys. They are not that old.
I have a friend here that speaks good English.
He is trying to export products from Iraq, and it is very interesting to hear about all the difficulties. He has a Kurdish partner that is from this city. Silopi. The man has 2 wives and 14 children. The Kurdish guy is suppose to go across the border today to try to make a deal.
The Kurdish man said that something are more important then money. There was about 5000 Kurdish people killed by Saddam. Some of these people were friends or family. He is happy that Saddam is dead. My other friend from Ankara is translating. But I understand the meaning of pulling his hand across his throat like he is cutting the throat of Saddam.
I have to be careful here. If I so much as stop. They ask me in for Tea. It is hard to walk along the street and make it to my destination. Just too many inviitations.
One of my favorite movies is "The Razors Edge." With Bill Murray as a lost soul traveling the world like me. He goes to this one place and give a coin to a kid. Than another starts to follow. Soon the whole village is chasing him and he is running to escape. I am not sure yesterday. But there must have been at least 15 following me. I did not give them any coins. The keep saying,
"How are you? What is your name?"
The do not ever seem to understand the answers.
But this is good fun.
I am glad I am used to people staring. It does not bother me after 6 years.
Here in Silopi everyone watches my every step.
I am not sure why. I would think that Americans came here in the past in great quanities. Maybe they was going to use a different border to cross. I am going to try to take a mini-van to the border tommorrow to take photos.
Sorry to hear about Bob Hope.
I have BBC in my room.
A man that is trying to export goods form Iraq wanted to talk.
I thought it was funny. He is from Ankara and speaks the Turkey language. He said all the people in this area speak Kurdish and he does not speak Kurdish.
He also said the Border was open and safe to cross. At least to the first city.
Said it cost 50 dollars USA to enter.