Not too far out of Erbil I get a ride from a guy in his thirties. He asks me if I speak French, he used to work in France and England but unfortunately I can’t dredge up my high school french so we continue in English. He tells me he’s trying to save $3000 so him and his family can be smuggled to Germany. He invites me to his family’s house for lunch, and old school building where his father lives with his two wives, and several children and grandchildren. Some of them speak English including the sister of the guy who drove me. She tells me that after graduating from university the government only allowed her to study English whereas she had much rather become a scientist.
After being given a ride to the highway I quickly find my next ride. A huge gun lays across the back seat but because of a communication barrier I can’t ask what it’s for. The driver has no problems at the check point though. The guards are more interested in me. I’m crossing into a part of Kurdistan which is controlled by another political faction. After having assured the female soldier that I’m just a tourist, and unpacking my bag to show I have nothing to hide I get permission to pass.
Back in the car I’m starting to get a bit uneasy about the driver. I don’t think he’s really aware of my intention and his hands start to wander. I ask him to stop, he doesn’t understand or want to understand so I apply my emergency trick for these situations. I open the door slightly as he’s driving and he quickly stops. Still a bit shaky I get my next ride from a well off and well traveled couple. They tell me they grew up in Baghdad but moved to Kurdistan after the city became too unsafe. They seem a bit puzzled by the way I travel, holidays for them are always a very luxurious affair.