This is a fantastic piece about Michael’s adventures in Kurdistan.

Erbil’s tiny international airport – with its tiny little customs booth and its tiny little luggage rack – doubles as a military base. Civilian craft only started landing there a few months ago. A kiosk called “Tourist Information� was set up by the main entrance next to an office that rented “phones for tourists.� I had a hard time believing many tourists actually went there on holiday unless they were visiting from other parts of Iraq. As I later found out, “tourist� simply meant visitor.

Civilian cars weren’t allowed anywhere near the terminal for security reasons, so I had to take a bus to a checkpoint a mile or so away where my pre-arranged driver Mr. Araz picked me up.

Driving to the center of any city from an airport rarely leaves a good first impression. The only exceptions I can think of are the trips into Tunis and Istanbul. But my fifteen minute ride to the Erbil International Hotel (aka, “The Sheraton,� even though it isn’t really a Sheraton) was particularly unpleasant. The city didn’t look like anywhere I wanted to be. Few things in this world are uglier than totalitarian cities. And while Erbil isn’t totalitarian anymore, Saddam Hussein left his stinking thumbprints all over the place. Erbil desperately needs an aesthetic makeover. (As I later found out when I could explore the city properly, it is getting one.)

Trust me, this is a great day by day account of his experience. Jeezus…Totten is much braver than me. So much braver…

Do read the whole thing, and wait for the subsequent updates…

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