Passage to Iraq

10 Nov

3 buses 2 planes 1 taxi and 13 hours later we are in our hotel room in central Erbil, contemplating the arrow on the wall that points the direction to Mecca.

We took the early morning flight from Heathrow to Vienna full of European business people.

Breakfast: Warm cheese and tomato omelette ciabatta sandwich.

Then we rushed to catch the tight connection to Erbil. Our colorful airplane was less than half full, comprised of mainly middle age Kurdish men. Upon taking our seat next to someone who seemed to be a frequent flier, the stewardess immediately came by to let him know he could change seats when the rest of the passengers had boarded. Without hesitation he moved up 4 rows to a single seat.

Lunch: Tomato rigatoni topped with 3 slices of chicken breast, warm bread roll and passion fruit mousse.

Arrival in the cavernous and vacant new international airport. Smooth passage through passport control (no questions, no paperwork, no problem). The baggage area with advertisements for local businesses, included a local bank with the greeting, “Welcome to Kurdistan.” Exiting the arrivals terminal, into an empty hall with a bus waiting outside.

The long bus ride, through flat vacant land, raked by the low full sun. We arrived at a parking lot and circled around to park, attracting waiting relatives who were waving and began to gather around the slowing bus. We were first off the bus, scanning the crowd for our names written on a A4 paper sign and instead were immediately nudged by Himan our driver, “Jason?”. He drove us on the wide roads into Erbil.

School buses were taking children home.

We checked-in at our hotel called the Mondeal, a few minute walk from the ancient Citadel. The rooms furnished with lots of light switches and a comfortable bed.


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