Travel Iraq Amadiya from Duhok
Walked over to the taxi stall in Dahuk in search of a ride to Amadiya, a town an hour to the north near the Turkish border. As could be expected, we were promptly feasted upon by a gaggle of hungry vultures from all directions. Taxi men yelled, taxi men screamed, taxi men yanked at my shirt sleeves.
The also tried to charge me way too much money. I walked away and left behind a continuing chorus of taxi man cries. I did not know how I was going to get to Amadiya but I was sure that it was not going to be with any of these scavengers.
There are no long distance public buses in the north of Iraq, so the traveler must work out deals with the taxi mafia – for better or worse.
Shoeshine operation in Duhok, Iraq
We walked to the other side of the town and stopped in at a little restaurant for breakfast. I pointed to some eggs and rice, and the cook piled what I ordered along with three different soups, a plate of salad, and a huge basket of bread down upon the table in front of us. It is sometimes difficult to tell what dishes are included with a meal and what ones are going to cost extra in Arabic countries, as restaurants seem to lay every random chunk and morsel of food that they have at hand down upon your table in addition to what you order. Sometimes this additional food is included with the meal, and sometimes it costs extra: you never really can tell. It also takes a lightening quick reaction to request this information from the waiter, as once a dish is on your table, it is yours to eat. We were charged extra for this particular spread of dishes that we neither ordered nor ate. Though the cost was only a little over $4.
Though we were soon to be redeemed. While walking by a bakery a man yelled out from behind us something in Kurdish. I turned around and he was rushing at me with a huge piece of bread that looked like some sort of naked pizza. From his gestures, I understood that he was giving it to me for free. I said thank you, and, pizza bread awkwardly in hand, went off to find a mode of transportation out of Duhok. We found a lot of full of minibuses.
I thought we scored.
I thought wrong.
I walked up to a couple of minibus drivers who where just hanging out and asked them if they were going to Amadiya. The shook their heads and said that I would have to take a taxi. I frowned.
Waving goodbye to them we began walking the way that we had come, when a Kurdish man greeted us in German. I greeted him back in English. He did not speak much English, but he spoke enough to understand what we were trying to do. He began talking to the swarm of taxi drivers that began to surround us on our behalf. He said that he was trying to find us a Christian driver, I told him that we just wanted the cheapest driver regardless of faith.
Kurdish man in Iraq.
The swarm of taxi drivers arrived at the consensus that we should pay 40,000 Iraqi Dinars – more than $30 – for a ride to Amadiya. Chaya and I laughed and said that we would pay 25,000. The taxi men laughed and began walking away. We raised our offer to 30,000, and the taxi driver stopped short and began making cell phone calls.
“Everybody is trying to help, but no one can do anything,” one of the taxi men jested.
The problem was that the drivers feared that once they drove us to Amadiya they would not be able to find a passenger to drive back to Duhok, and would therefore need money for a round trip. I also had the fleeting suspicion that they also did not want to part from their taxi driver powwow in streets of Duhok for an entire day for anything less than a lot of money. But the taxi men did try to help us find a driver who was already going to Amadiya for us to ride with.
A taxi then drove up the street that we were standing in, and the German speaking man flagged it down. He got to driver to agree on making the trip for 30,000 Diners. I looked in at the driver, and he seemed alright. We jumped in.
It is my impression that a traveler must be able to size a man up with a single glance. There is no other way of telling who to trust and who to avoid. I do not know of the emotional bookmarks that I go through to determine this: I simply trust my intuition.
The ride to Amadiya went through mountains and across plains. Each time we passed by one of Saddam Hussein’s now destroyed palaces, the taxi driver would point and say “Saddam Hussein.” The places that he pointed at were now mostly halfway fenced in fallow fields, but I suppose great palaces once stood here before the Kurds tore them limb from limb.
After a little over an hour of riding through the bright sunny day, we began approaching a great plateau top citadel of a city. The driver pointed out in the distance and said “Amadiya.” A cloud of mist sat as a playful blanket over this city that could have only come from a dream.
We drove to the top of the plateau, and the taxi driver left us behind.
Amadiya, nothern Iraq.
Travel Iraq Amadiya from Duhok