Thursday, September 13, 2012

Safety and Security in Kurdistan

There are a million and one things I could blog about already and I've not even been here two weeks. From food adventures to taxi rides my first few days in Iraq have certainly been interesting. Alas, I don't want to give away everything all at once, so I'm going to just pick a topic and stick with it.

I know one the the major concerns of my family and friends when I told them I would be moving here was my safety living in Iraqi Kurdistan. That's part of the reason I simply said Kurdistan in the beginning. "I'm moving to Kurdistan" doesn't quite have the same jarring effect as "I'm moving to Iraq." But of course that's with good reason. That said, this is still Iraq even if it is an autonomous region of it.

However, I am safe. Honestly, I'm very safe.

There are two security guards outside my villa at all times. I use the same taxi driver to and from work every day and I believe he has been told he must call or text our reception whenever I get in the car with him. He seems trustworthy enough, but I think they just want to know whenever I leave my workplace so they know how long it should take before I get back. This way, if for some reason I don't turn up, they are on it.

Seriously, I am pretty sure someone always knows where I am. I don't really think anyone is keeping strict tabs on me, but it sort of seems that way.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thursday is the new Friday

It's Friday! Well, actually it's Thursday, but here Thursday is Friday and Sunday is Monday. It's really tough to keep straight right now and I keep telling me students we'll start something new on Monday, but I mean Sunday.

Anyway, my first two days of teaching are down. I really like my new students and I'm excited. They're in an archaeological program for the conservation of heritage and antiquities. In other words, they're learning to preserve artifacts that are found in their regions, especially those that would preserve Iraqi or Kurdish history. It's a pretty interesting program and since it was originally funded by the U.S. Embassy (and now the University of Delaware) the students are also required to make an effort to improve their English. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I've moved to Iraq.

I know. Not exactly where I or anyone probably thought I'd be. 

I left Prague Saturday night in full tears. (I'll be writing a post with a proper goodbye to Prague later.) Unfortunately, my flight left an hour late so I missed my connection in Istanbul. Fortunately for me, that means I got to spend a day in Istanbul courtesy of Turkish Airlines. More on that in another post.

I finally arrived in Erbil (also known as Arbil or Hawler) at about 3 a.m. on Monday morning. My boss met me at the airport and helped me get my 40 kilos of luggage (for which I did not pay an extra cent because of a really amazing friend) up to my room in the female teachers villa. I was already exhausted but I was too wired to sleep. So I was up until 6 a.m. and then proceeded to sleep on and off the rest of the day until about 1 p.m. when I decided to get up, get dressed and go across the street to the office.

Problem: I had no water. I couldn't flush the toilet or use my shower upstairs. Downstairs there was the tiniest bit of water so I was able to wash my hands and face and brush my teeth. Great first morning, eh?