I decide to take the back roads to Kurdistan’s capital of Erbil. Through small villages and farmlands just south of the mountain range that forms the border with Turkey. As I walk to the highway in Dohuk I spot a sign saying Mosul 75 kilometers and it feels unreal how physically close fighter are dying on the front line while the city just continues on its ways.
Once again I’m a bit apprehensive about hitchhiking in a new country. The last time around I took the time to learn a bit of Turkish before heading out, now all I have is a small picture dictionary a Turkish Kurd gave me, it’s the wrong dialect but it makes for a good prop. Luckily the first driver knows a bit of English and he drives me all the way to Amedi, an ancient town which, according to locals, was the home town of the three wise men of the east. My luck continues when a young local men offers to show me around in perfect English and I spent an hour or two visiting old Churches and Mosques though unfortunately he doesn’t know where the former Synagogue is.
I start a conversation with the next driver in English but we quickly switch to Dutch when it turns out he spent years working in my home town, now that he’s retired he went back home. Afterwards I meet a German speaker who’s back to bury his father. He brings me to a checkpoint where the guards force me to wait until they find the next ride. Since there are PKK fighters in the mountains the government forces (who have their own agenda) are careful with who they let through the checkpoints. The regions seeming stability is strictly guarded.