The guy who invited me into the van to cross the border has taken it upon himself to make sure I have a good start in Kurdistan. His wife and kids are picnicking in the mountains so he has some time to kill before their return. We set out to buy a sim-card and when my recently bought phone refuses to acknowledge the tiny chip we visit his friend in the city center who runs a phone repair shop. He tells me a bit about the history of Zakho how it used to have a large Jewish and christian populations but that after many waves of political violence the place is now mostly Kurdish. And at the moment the region is very safe, safer than the Netherlands my new friend jokes. Which might be true, in any case it’s safer than the other side of the border where I had to avoid several regions and cities because of civil unrest.
It’s getting too late to hitchhike now so the guy gives me a ride to a stand for shared taxis and I end up at a hotel in Dohuk. Over the next two days I discover there is not much to do in town, except for visiting a tiny art gallery, find some relief from the sun in some parks and a strolling around a central market. The most interesting thing is just to look at the the people, the old men in their traditional costumes, the young man with their carefully combed up hair, the women wearing different styles of colorful headscarves.