06 June, 2010

Erbil: Night at Ardil Hotel

After eighteen hours on two buses, and another 240 kilometers in two taxis - 23 hours in total - i  arrived safe and sound in Erbil, though a bit nervous. To be honest, the feeling that i had no idea where i was going or what i was doing - largely true - began to scare me. The second passenger that left our taxi got out inside a fenced camp; the place was guarded by young Kurds wearing "U.S. ARMY" shirts and carrying automatics. Unable to pay for the ride at that moment, he left his passport as collateral, which further annoyed the already irritable driver. (It was at this moments i realized our driver had been one of the agonists in a heated argument at the garage in Zaho. Heated arguments are quite common here.)

Binyamin, the remaining fellow passenger was a somewhat saintly, if wearied, man who pitied my cluelessness and directed me to a hotel. I knew the hotel where my friends had stayed (10,000 dinars, or about $8 per night) was close to the citadel - but with dusk rapidly falling on a Sunday evening, and things closing, it would be tough to find. Weary enough to give in, i spent 79,000 dinars (50 USD), and winced my way up to the room.

After a while i was grateful, 79,000 dinars or not. In the lobby, one of the employees sat down and conversed with me for over half an hour in Turkish. I could understand a little of what he said; he must have sensed that all i'd eaten since Ankara was one simit and a packet of crackers, because he told the other worker to make me up a breakfast plate now, at eleven pm, and insisted i eat even when i politely refused (putting true hospitality in "hospitality industry"). As we sat eating and talking together, the electricity flickered off and on again a couple of times. Just part of life in Erbil.