Erbil in 16 hours

I work for a great company – I’m afforded the opportunity to travel to countries that most people in their right minds wouldn’t think of going…. Iraq, Kurdistan (region of Iraq), Afghanistan (ok this one I might still be hesitant to go to), and possibly even Yemen in the future.

So when my boss says to me “Hazel, you’re going to Erbil tonight to hand-carry some items in for the crew”, I don’t say no.

Unfortunately though, the visa that had just been obtained for me (which took nearly a month to get) was only a single entry so I was a little upset that I wasn’t going to be going in for very long, nor was I going to get the chance to head down to the crew. Oh well, it was an opportunity to go in, get a feel for the place and go visit our office there.

I was a little nervous because I was carrying in things that look like radio pieces, which the Kurds (and Iraqi’s) disapprove of. A lot. My bag was scanned at Dubai airport, like usual, but they didn’t like the look of some of the small parts in my bag – and I have to admit that on the screen they did look very suspicious… even a little bit like bullets. So they asked to search my bag, taking a closer look at the pieces, but were eventually satisfied (“computer parts” I told them) and off I went.

My arrival at Erbil airport was fairly uneventful – the flight I was on was the only one to arrive at the airport at that time (1am Erbil time, 2am Dubai time) so it was quiet. I headed over to the visa counter, got my stamp and headed across to passport control. Everyone I dealt with here was extremely friendly and smiley for that hour of the day – it was quite welcoming. And the passport control guy was a little yummy to look at too, which made it even easier 😆

I met with my guy outside the airport and we headed across to the hotel, stopping along the side of the road to handover the thingie-ma-jigs that I’d carried in. It was slightly surreal standing on the side of the road in the middle of Erbil, at 1am, handing over a bag full of bits and bobs that I have no idea what they are.

On arrival at the hotel we were stopped by security where the guy did a search of the car – from the outside with a mirror thing! It was a very weird feeling watching him walk around the car, checking the underneath of it with a mirror – ensuring there were no bombs attached to the underside of the car. Welcome to Iraq Kurdistan.

The hotel I stayed in was super fancy – Divan hotel – and the staff were very friendly and welcoming. They even upgraded me to a suite. Now that’s nice! Pity I wasn’t going to be spending much time in the room 😦 The bellboy took my bag from me and we headed up to my room – or should I say apartment. It was huge. Bigger than the apartment I last lived in, I’m sure. It even had a guest loo! But right now, it’s nearly 3am and all I want to do is climb into that big snuggly bed and sleep.

The next morning I headed down to breakfast at about 10am, then back to the room to do some work and while away the time before having to check out. Not long after that I was picked up and taken across to our office where I met some of the locals we work with. I arrived just as lunch was being brought out so I sat and enjoyed lunch with the guys; and had a wonderful conversation with one of the guys about travelling, languages (he can speak about 5) and just Kurdistan in general.

And then it was off to the airport again for me. And once again subjected to searches. I must have looked suspicious or something. My bag was opened and searched through at every scan that I went through. But I eventually got on the plane without much incident and settled back with my beer(s) and dinner and headed home.







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