09 June, 2010


Hawler, it turns out, is the Kurdi name for Erbil, Arbil, Irbil, whatever you want to call it (by the way, this site has a nifty interactive map of the region). As we head south toward Kirkuk, the wheat fields lay shorn and piled with straw. We pass a stretch of road lined with small fruit stands and hoses spurting water in arcs.

Kirkuk is not a recommended place to visit. It's considered "hot" - not to mention that the concrete block suburbs look rather like a prison, and the flames of burning oil can be seen in the distance. But after another security checkpoint, the road turns east, back toward the hills. Outside Chamchamal is a substantial greenhouse industry; i wish i knew what they were growing. Then, over a low pass, we enter a valley, and Suly sprawls before us into the haze.

There is apparently no correct or official way of spelling it. On signs you will see Sulaimaniah, Sulaymaniyah, Suleymaniyeh, Sulaimany, Slemani and Slemany. The bus driver deposits us at a dusty roadside, and i set off towards the city center.