I finally did it – visited Kurdistan for work and got out to the field… and got my boots INCREDIBLY dirty! And I didn’t even have to try hard – the rain did it all for me 🙂
According to the locals, this time of year is not usually this rainy, but we have been experiencing intense thunder and lightning storms almost every afternoon. This does NOT help production for our job as it means that the mountains and hills the next day are incredibly muddy and therefore difficult to climb or even walk over. But, we’re a hardcore group of guys (and girls) who want to get the job done! The highest peak (Halgurd) in Kurdistan is 3,600m which is near the border with Iran. Some of the mountains we’re working on are well above 2,000 meters, so you can just imagine the kind of terrain we deal with daily!
I visited both of our current projects in Kurdistan, one taking place in Barzan area (which is the sacred area of President Barzan), and the other in the Amedi/Tawke/Gara areas. These are are not sacred areas, but they are absolutely beautiful and are known largely as family picnic spots.
My first day out in the field I went with our “Recording” crew – these are the guys who “collect” all the data that we are out there surveying. I learned a great deal on this day, with a lot of words that I’d heard in the office finally falling into place… The one guy I was with was great at drawing me pictures and getting stuck into explaining things to me (I am all for pretty pictures when trying to understand what is being explained to me).
My second day I went out with the explosives crew who, you guessed it, deal with explosives. These are the guys who go along and put dinamite (purposefully spelled incorrectly) into holes that have been drilled in the ground (by our teams) which then gets detonated by the “shooting” crew, and this gives us the shock waves that then give us the data we need. Well, that’s an extremely basic description of it. But I got to load 2 of these holes with dinamite! All by myself 🙂 (with the team leader standing right by, watching my every move ;)) I then also visited the magazine where we keep all of our explosives – they look nothing like these kinds of things do in movies – they are simple-looking red plastic tubes that say “explosive” on the side.
Camp life is almost exactly as I’d imagined it – I’ve seen many photos in the office and they were not much different actually being there. One camp I stayed in a little cabin, the other was in a tent – it just depends on the size of the camp, and the space (and money) available for accommodation. The one camp had more than 200 people staying in every night, and the other camp had less than 100; so a very big difference in the sizes! I felt very welcomed by everyone and they seem to really enjoying showing anyone who wants to learn what it is that they do.
The drive between the 2 camps (which took approximately 2.5 hours) was absolutely breathtaking, driving along the winding roads into the mountains; my ears were constantly popping from the high-low altitudes. We drove through the small town of Amedi which is practically built into the side of the mountain! I felt like a kid in a candy store for those 2.5 hours – my head not knowing which way to turn to take in all the splendour that is Kurdistan.
And the way things are looking with my job at the moment, I’ll be back here on a fairly regular basis 🙂