Have you ever wondered where adventure might take you? Are you looking at stepping out the ordinary
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Kurdistan Iraq and to share in the re-launch of Piro Magazine. I have been contracted to work with them as English editor and to submit my own articles for publication. What a great adventure!
The following article has been published and printed in Piro Magazine (December 2012).
We all have dreams! And for many of us, we have dreams of travelling to far off places. I recently achieved this dream with the amazing opportunity to visit Kurdistan-Iraq. It was a remarkable and unforgettable experience. As a single woman travelling to Kurdistan, I was at first, apprehensive. But, I soon realized that I had no reason to be concerned. The warm and welcoming people, the breathtaking land, and the merging of old and new cultures allowed me to be captivated with the richness of my visit. There is much about Kurdistan that I would love to share, but really, you need to visit for yourself.
To give you a glimpse of my travels, I must first tell you that the Kurdish people are very kind and generous. They are happy and excited to see visitors come to their great region. At times my ‘English only’ means of communication was a small barrier, however many people speak a little English while others are more fluent.
One of the things that impressed me the most about the people is how willing both my old and new friends were to open their homes and their hearts to me. Several friends from Kurdistan shared stories of their childhood, others told stories of their present lives and all were happy to talk of their future.
The country is mountainous and very beautiful! The mountains are filled with caves and of course, at various times throughout history, people lived within them. It was the natural splendour and the breathtaking views however, that inspired me to take advantage of the many photo opportunities!
One place I found particularly interesting was Amedi. It is an ancient town built high on a mountain in a ring shape like a citadel. This picturesque town boasts narrow streets, many small shops, and a history rich in culture. Currently there are 900 families, approximately 4500-5000 people living there. The people there originally lived at the top of the mountain and farmed in the lush green valley below – a long walk both up and down the mountain each and every day!
Throughout my visit, I had the opportunity to tour museums, visit small villages, sightsee in the large cities of Duhok and Erbil, be captivated by stunning mountain views, be charmed by gorgeous waterfalls and deep canyons, and to immerse myself in all this land has to offer travelers and locals alike. No visit to Kurdistan would be complete without checking out the Dohuk Bazaar, a traditional old market in a maze of alleyways and colorful stalls. Here you can purchase Kurdish clothing, gold jewellery, modern goods and a variety of Kurdish spices and sweets. I encourage you to take the time to indulge in traditional Kurdish cuisine, sample the pomegranate juice and allow your senses to be captivated by the sights and sounds that abound.
In Kurdistan, I experienced the coming together of old and new cultures. Once a land of violent conflicts, Kurdistan is now growing and thriving. Economic growth is evident, construction is abundant, and life is progressing quickly; still, old traditions, past struggles, and historical events are preserved. Kurdistan is rich in culture and economically strong! It is however, the people that make the difference; they are strong, resilient and open. Kurds are proud of their history, happy with their present and excited for their future!
For those of us in the western world, we may wonder whether it is safe to travel to the Middle East. Without question, Kurdistan is safe! Often called the Other Iraq, Kurdistan has its own prime minister, a separate parliament, a brilliant red white and green flag with a blazing yellow sun in the center, a separate language (Kurdish), Kurdistan specific passport stamps, and proud and resilient people.
I encourage you to visit Kurdistan! You will absolutely love your time in this wonderful land and perhaps you too will fulfill your travel dream. There are travel and tourism companies within the country, companies which will serve and cater to your needs when you are on a vacation either far or close to home. Piro Group is one of these well established and reputable businesses. Give them a call or send me an email if you are thinking of a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to visit a safe and growing country.