Around Erbil…

I decided to walk to the citadel instead of hailing a cab. It looked close enough, and cabs can be a pain to flag down. About five minutes after I started walking, I realized that it was really hot. Really really hot! So I told myself that I would flag down the next cab I saw. I ended up walking the entire way.

The citadel was amazing! Fantastic views of the city, and so many narrow alleyways to get lost in. It was really neat to see 8,000 years of city preserved. It’s falling apart currently, but you can see the renovations going on to preserve it. The nice thing is that even though renovations are underway, they are done in a way that does not take away from the visit.

I’m not sure how to put this, but the Kurdish have a very abrasive way of communicating. They are incredibly nice people, and love tourists (everyone I talk to gives me the thumbs up and says “America good!”, but they are just gruff during conversations. I miss the warmth of Arab conversation style. I was walking around near a family in the citadel, and the father kept offering me his water (remember, it’s ridiculously hot). They asked me to take a photo of their family, and we started talking. They were visiting from Baghdad for the weekend. They were the sweetest family. It was so nice to be able to communicate with someone! With my broken Arabic, and their broken English, we had a very nice conversation sitting atop the citadel in the shade. I thanked them for the photo, wished them a happy Eid, told them it was nice to meet them, and made my way down the hill to catch a cab with A/C.

I took the cab to Ainkawa (the Christian neighborhood) next. It was nice, with a few too many liquor ads for my taste (you would think that Chivas Regal sponsored the town!). I grabbed some great cheap kabab, looked around a bit, and did a quick tour of the church, and caught a cab out of Ainkawa. It was neat to see a different ethnic makeup. There is a very large Assyrian population here.

I cabbed it to the Jalil Khayat Mosque to snap some photos. It is the biggest mosque in Kurdistan and looks a lot like Blue Mosque in Istanbul. It was prayer time when I arrived, so out of respect I took pictures from the outside. It a really beautiful building!

A great thing about the taxis here, is that they are really cheap! Usually $2-$4 for a ten to fifteen minute ride. You have to watch your hydration here, because you don’t sweat. It just evaporates off of your skin. Before you know it, you’ve lost a couple pounds!

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