In this region, Friday is a day off, much like our Sunday, so Rahman and I planned on not doing much, perhaps going swimming in the pool or wandering over to the Dam, a half mile walk. After going to bed at 2am due in part to catching up with my wife by chatting on facebook, 8am felt a little early, but my body isn’t really sure what is going on, so I headed to breakfast with Rahman. This hotel also has a complimentary breakfast with almost identical food to the one yesterday. I guess if a Kurd came to the US and stayed at the hotels with complimentary “breakfast” they might rave about all the good stuff provided, but I doubt it. Breakfast here has a lot of fresh stuff that requires preparation, cutting vegetables and fruit, hard boiling eggs, baking bread. There are again things that I do not recognize, so I avoid them. One of them was a local cheese that Rahman said we should not trust. So, I trusted Rahman. Honey in the comb was again available, but it tasted different than the honey yesterday.
Toward the end of breakfast, Dr. Adnan found us. Though he is busy preparing for marriage, which includes building a new house, he wanted to make sure we are taken care of. We decided to go with him for a driving tour followed by lunch. Lunch?? I just stuffed myself at breakfast and did not want to see food for a long time. The driving tour was the same as the one with Amera except after the Dohuk dam and the market, which is quieter in the daytime, we left Dohuk city for the country. Along the way out of town, we passed several ice selling spots within a couple of hundred yards of one another on the side of the road. Ice is sitting in long rectangular blocks about 15 cm on a side and 1 meter long, stacked 6 to 8 high with some sort of covering over it, cardboard, cloth, whatever is available. It must be 43-45 Celsius (109-113) at this time, so I’m trying to figure out how these guys are sure they will sell their ice before it literally goes down the drain. They were busy with people pulled over getting chunks of ice for their coolers. Probably for a picnic in the country where we were going. Parking is not a problem here. You just stop your car anywhere on the side of the road and you have a parking space! People go around you.
Driving out of the city we went up some in elevation and found the area to be even a little more green than the lower elevation of the city. Outside the air was a bit cooler as well. Vineyards again dotted the landscape accompanied by parks with gazebo type structures for camping or picnicing. It does snow some in the winter with Dohuk getting 4-6 cm at a time and the area we were in now up to 40 cm. There are a couple of little restaurants right next to the road in a narrow pass in the mountains. Adnan said he would come there for fish, which we had been advised not to eat. I thought we were going to stop there for lunch! A little boy was tending a fire in an open pit with a big log burning in the middle of it. Apparently the fish are cooked on this fire.
We turned around and went toward Dohuk by the scenic route, taking us through a small village named Zawita where we stopped for a little child to cross the road to his mother standing on the other side … he was maybe 2 years old. The children here, especially in the city, must be pretty street savvy to avoid being run over. Again, I think they learn early on about the common sense rules of the road. In any case, their mothers do not appear to be very concerned about the situation. We also came across a football game inside a fenced in field with artificial turf as the surface. Remember that I am in Kurdistan, so football is not what you think. You did read artificial turf correctly. There are football fields throughout the city, where they are also covered. Not sure who pays for these, I guess the government. Rahman got out to take some pictures and the kids started showing off and waving to us.
Back in Dohuk, the young men are still on the side of the road selling ice, though the piles are smaller. Dr. Adnan takes us to the restaurant where he will have his wedding party. There will be 600 guests at about 15,000 dinars per guest ($1 US = 1,250 dinars). The restaurant has numerous outdoor grassy areas where the party will be as well as a very nice and large interior restaurant. No one is outside at this time of day so we go in for lunch. Soup and salad (not the kind of salad you are thinking of) to start, Syrian Kebabs and Turkish Kebabs for the main course, fruit and Baclava for dessert with water and sode in between. Topped off with Chai tea. I really wasn’t hungry to start with, so eating all of this was a challenge. We did the best we could, Rahman faring better than me. In the middle of lunch a strange thing happened. We get a call from a mysterious person asking us exactly what is in our luggage. I talked to him first – I could hardly remember what was in my suitcase much less the brand of the soap which he asked for! Rahman spent some time trying to explain that he had some soccer, er, football shoes in his bag, but then remembered we had put them in my bag to help with his bag being overweight. Everyone was confused by the end, and we figured the call was for security reasons or some such and that anything we did not identify would be gone from our bags. I hope they don’t take my granola!
A luxury nap was had once again after returning to the hotel. Then a dip in the pool. Then a shower and excursion into the market area in search of food. Why would we want food again I don’t know, but swimming around and walking generated an appetite. We had decided the day before that I would have to try this food that is prepared on a very large rotating vertical stick with fire on one side. The stick is rotated to cook whatever kind of meat is attached. It is called Döner kebab. Google it. Two interesting things happened at dinner. The first is that I am beginning to be able to recognize different ethnic groups like Turkish Kurds, Regular Kurds, and Arabs. I won’t give you details here, but Rahman can vouch for me that I can do it. The second thing that happened is that about halfway through dinner the hustle and bustle of the little restaurant (we were eating inside this time … in fact a man sat at our table to join the next table it was so crowded) halted with complete darkness. No power. Everyone continued to eat, the owner and workers continued to move around, and in about 30 seconds the lights were back and life continued as if nothing happened. I’ll tell you more about the power another day.
Back at the hotel we end the day on the computers again and just before going to bed I have the pleasure of chatting with my lovely wife on facebook. What a crazy world this is. Aren’t we supposed to be working here?