Well, I had a few hours to blow the other day and so we ventured out in the canyons of northern Kurdistan and found some good photo ops. What follows are photos of the northern region of Iraq, known as Kurdistan, or the Kurdish Region. Iraqi, Turkish, and Iranian officials do not like people referring to this region as Kurdistan because they fear that the Kurds they oppress in their own countries will rise up and want the same rights and freedoms the Iraqi Kurds enjoy today.
This is a tight canyon that runs in an area of Iraq that most people will never see on their TVs, mainly because people are not dying here regularly in current conflict. Although, the current election situation is making things allot more interesting up here with the Kurds standing up to their historical leaders, the Barzani tribe. Some are vocally protesting and demanding real change from the government.
This shot is a spot where two rivers come together and form one larger one. That massive chunk of rock there rises up impressively and the road veers off to the left canyon. The height of the canyon here is pretty steep and rocky, really narrow. The mountains and canyons here remind me somewhat of the area of western Colorado, maybe a little of south western Utah. It is kind of like if you took Moab, Utah and added a little more height, and threw in some people talking in a funny language and terrible food. That would actually be pretty accurate. Scary. Next time I need to come to Iraq, I will just go to Utah and pretend.
Farther up the same canyon, at a river crossing, the cliffs rise straight upwards. The water was icky green in color, probably a combination of waste chemicals (I would not swim or eat anything pulled from this river!) and run off from the surrounding mountains. Heck could be dust as well, this was the first time I have been to this area since March when the sky was not completely blocked by sand/dust in the air. Last time I was here, you could barely see maybe a mile due to the dust that just hangs in the air, blown in from Syria and southern Iraq. I will throw up some photos next week where you can see the dust, it has really gotten terrible here. You can literally taste the dust in the air when you breathe, smell it when you take a breath…just gross.
Here you can see the old road they used to use to get through the canyon. This road is part of a route devised by a British fellow back in the early 1900s when the Brits occupied the area. This road runs along the opposite side of the canyon that the new road does, and seriously, I would not take a donkey along that road. It is scary dangerous looking. Reminds me of a road called Phantom Canyon in Colorado…a road my wife has banned me from for life. 😀
This photo is pretty cool. We have driven past this spot probably a dozen times and most of us have wanted to stop and snag a photo…I mean, it is a waterfall…in Iraq. Sort of contradictory to everything you have heard about Iraq.
Well, my boss was feeling pretty good this day and let us stop and get out and visit the spot finally and we found a small pond with ducks! My boss managed to score some bread from the locals and fed the ducks as some kids took boats out into the pond and some families wandered about exploring the area.
Seriously, it was nice to relax a little and just be.