Yes, I made safely to Iraq. We had a medial emergency on the flight across the Atlantic Ocean and through the efforts of several of the other passengers and myself kept the flight from diverting to Ireland or London.
Sulaimani, Iraq is really not what I expected, its better in many ways but I have much to learn about the culture and so forth.
Dehydration is a big problem here and I need to keep reminding myself to drink plenty of water, its easy to let oneself go as the fluid loss is imperceptible until symptomatic, what with the high altitude and dry climate. Speaking of dry, when the plane descended below 15,000 ft, on our arrival to Sulaimani, there was a thick the yellow haziness of the dust that almost looked like LA smog and after disembarking you could taste the fine grit with the first few breaths. The house that we work out of is nice, a fig tree in the courtyard, a big kitchen and many rooms. My bedroom pretty awesome it has an outside balcony that overlooks the street and I can see the markets on the corners where bread is made fresh while you wait.
The local Mosque is down the street a few buildings away and the call to prayers is quite beautiful and calming. Friday around noon the street is quite busy with the men coming to mosque. The call to prayers seems to have different styles at different times of the day. The noon ones are at secular noon, the four o’clock prayers are at 3:40 PM local sun time. The Friday prayers include what seems to be the sermon and other parts of the prayer service. I plan to ask our local guide more about the Mosque and the Muslim faith in general. Ramadan is soon approaching and I want not to offend anyone through a lack of knowledge.
The society here is all about the men, they are everywhere with only about five percent women walking about the city which makes it easy for a westerner to make a mistake and violate a cultural norm. Like I did yesterday at the bazar attempting to buy traditional Kurdish shoes, they are men’s only I believe and I think I upset the store owner by asking to try them on. Learning how to navigate here is going to take time and I will have to be patient with myself as I through the process of finding my space adapting to this new world.