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Log book to the end of civilization. XXIII

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The day to start returning arrives. The lads celebrate that two of us will be free soon by simply drowning any last sense of civility and culture in pints and pints of lager (“lohg'r”, as my Scot buddy says). That means that next morning I wake up, slightly hung over but ready to begin my journey.
We travel back to Suly, on the same potholed, two lane road, which guarantees that we will see our death close up on a few occasions. The driver does not disappoint in that aspect, and two hours later we arrive at the hotel, Allhamduhm-leella!! It is one of those words that sometimes makes me laugh, sometimes drives me crazy, but the ubiquitous Arab intonation of “God Is great” applies this time. Only through the grace of some divine providence we got here and were not run over by the petrol tanker. Or the tractor. Or the 18 wheeler, or who knows what other close calls I missed because my eyes were closed.
It is the same hotel, the same place. Security informs us that, because of the dangers inherent in Suly, we are recommended to stay in the hotel and wait for our secure armor care next day. But I can't. I am not scheduled to come back and this city will remain a mystery to me if I don't go out. So I request an English speaking taxi driver, am provided with one at the front desk, and I decide to imbibe Kurdistan for one last afternoon.
A quick web search tells me there are three places I need to go. One is the Sulemani (their spelling) museum of natural history, small but where ancient statues and relics await. The other is Amna Sarak (The Red House), a detention center used by Saddam for torturing and killing Kurds and which have been transformed into a Memorial and Remembrance place. But my luck runs out. Although it is Saturday, it is a holiday and both places are closed. The third place is the Souq and, as I did in Kelar, I head there in hope that I will see something a bit more elaborate.
I find only a larger version of the one in Kelar. There is a mosque which in the late afternoon is crowded with men kneeling and thanking Allah they are not a woman, and around it the merchants peddle their crafts and goods. But what is sold here lacks quality. I find almost nothing worth buying, or at least something local to take back as a trinket from Kurdistan. I buy a small rosary, a Muslim praying string-of-beads that the men use in their rituals, and my guide points to me items here and there that are too plastic-ky for my taste or needs. I find some local dresses and buy one for my female loved one, but I find myself taking photographs and not much. And these I have to shoot with discretion: I am reminded that people here are not fond of ending on somebody else's FB page.
It is enjoyable in that you see the chaos of an Arab city on a Saturday afternoon. Because the Souq is so large, the sellers must advertise their goods and the only way to do so is shouting. So the corridors and streets are nothing more than continuous long wails of offers, one continuous shouting match between men. It gets heated at times and I see one or two verbal scuffles going on; what they are about I will never know, but my guide tells me that two men are arguing over possession of a chair or, perhaps, simply the right to use it. In this way we travel across the streets and corridors and I see all the sectors: the butchers selling beef, the farmers bringing life chickens to the market, places where live fish still swim in buckets of water. In a place where electricity and refrigeration are at a premium, it is better if you can buy your proteins while alive. We walk around a bit more and I come across a plaza where there is a large mural of a man that looks, although the mural is slightly faded, regal and in command. I am told that it is the portrait of the last King of Kurdistan, which makes me confused about my previous statement that Kurdistan has never existed as an independent entity. I make a note to check that later on, but the afternoon is ending and there is one more thing to see.
The sun is getting low and a light chill is coming over Suly. There is little, actually nothing more to do in the Souq, and I am taken to a high place in the mountain to see the sun set on Sulyamniyah. The city lights compete briefly with the last rays of sun, until they win over the night.
That is my last view of Kurdistan, the sun setting over this city. And with that, the sun also sets on this trip.

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