Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Road trip... Iraq

How many people just up and decide we've got a car, we're 1,000 miles from Iraq... lets do it! In fact I fairly sure those words have never been uttered in human history until now... Michael Totten's on his way to Iraq and along the way takes some interesting notes on the people he comes in contact with. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

I asked the clerk at the hotel desk if he knew a place where I could buy a map.

He didn't. I wasn’t surprised. Maps are generally harder to find in the East, and it’s weird how many people do not know how to read them.

“Do you have any idea what’s the best road to take to get to Turkish Kurdistan?” I said. Sean and I did have a map, we just couldn’t tell from the small granularity which was the best route.

“I don’t like Kurds,” the clerk said.

“What’s wrong with Kurds?” Sean said.

“I don’t like their culture,” he said and twisted his face. “They’re dirty and stupid.”

Sean and I just looked at him and blinked. He seemed like such a sweet kid when he checked us into the hotel.

I had a brief flashback to a conversation I had with a Kurd in Northern Iraq a few weeks before. Istanbul is a great city, my Kurdish friend said. The only problem is it’s full of Turks.

“What do you think of Arabs?” Sean said.

“Eh,” the clerk said. “We don’t like them in Turkey. We have the same religion, but that’s it. They cause so many problems. You know.”

Sometimes it seems like everyone in the Middle East hates everyone else in the Middle East. Arabs hate Kurds and Israelis. Turks hate Arabs and Kurds. Kurds hate Turks and fear Arabs. (Interestingly, Kurds love Israelis.) Everyone, especially Lebanese, hates Palestinians.

They really push the envelope on the Hithchiker's Guide to Iraq...

And on top of that Michael Yon's in Afghanistan. Discussing the incredible danger he faces on his proposed trek to outlying provinces, the poppy fields, and the popularity of the WWE.