crossing the line 13-05-2016

I turn down the offer of the truck driver to go to his house, switch to his car and drive the last 5 or so kilometers to do the border. Nothing too explicit happened, but he instructed me too many times to find a Dutch wife for him and at this point I just want to get out of his truck. Though I’m slightly starting to regret my choice a few kilometers down the road when my backpack starts to feel too heavy under the scorching sun.

I’m elated when I finally see the line of cars lining up in front of the Turkish border post. I spot some Dutch license plates and I try to make some small talk but the driver doesn’t seem to be impressed or even care that he’s meeting a fellow countrymen, he’s just trying to get his paper work in order.

I consider going back to that car when the Turkish border guard tells me I can’t continue on foot. I ask him how I am supposed to cross when a man in a crowd invites me into the van he’s in. He ushers me through the checkpoints. The Turkish one is unremarkable and standard bureaucratically unfriendly. The Kurdish-Iraqi check is more informal with a gun laying very casually between the mouse and the monitor of the guy who is examining my passport. He tells what I’ve already read online. If I want to stay in the territory for over 10 days I need to go to the police and that the stamp only gives me entrance to the Kurdish territory and under no circumstance am I allowed into the area not controlled by the Kurds. I agree he stamps my passport and returns it to me. The Iraqi stamp is one of the very few signs I’m in what is internationally recognized as Iraq. Outside the border post a wave of Kurdish flags flutter.