The Kurdish Iraq border

I bombed through Turkey on my way to KIraq since I figured I would be coming back the same way and could check out things then.  I spent my last night in Turkey in the border town of Silopi.  It’s a border town and thats about all that can be said for it.  Except for two things- the great people and the terrible power grid.  In Turkey the further Southeast you go the further back in time you seem to travel- kind of cool and kind of annoying at the same time.  On my way to dinner the power went out and except for the half-dozen or so military bases around, headlights, and gas lamps the whole town went dark.  This ended up leaving me with great memories about a town I would have otherwise dismissed as something simply to get through.  The restaurants cooked by charcoal so kept on going, but added a gas lamp or two to eat by.  The feeble glow of these lamps caused everyone to gather around the tables and I was instantly in a ‘conversation’ of broken english/french and pantomime with the locals.  I’m not really one for these kinds of situations, but I just couldn’t help by enjoy myself.  It was my first taste of the Kurdish people, their hospitality, and their amazing spirit. 

On the dark walk home I saw a child doing what I assume was his homework by candlelight.  For me it caught the mood of the place and of the Kurdish people.

Early the next morning I headed out to the border.  As many of you know, I’m not really one for planning on this trip, so I really had no clue what to expect at the border- would I need a Carnet?  Advanced permission for the bike?  Petrol purchase permit for a foreign vehicle?  Special insurance?  The list was endless and I could answer one question- I knew a person walking across as a tourist could get a free 10 day visa at the border.  Going to an Iraqi border crossing without a clue what to expect was a strange feeling. 

As it turns out, the only difference for me and border guards waiting for me, was I knew I was riding toward them.


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