Where to Now? You Decide!
Hey sports fans,
If you can believe it, Nathan and Matt gave their intern the responsibility of presenting the potential destinations for their upcoming trip, which is scheduled for late January or early February. In turn, the reader (that’s you), will decide where they’ll end up going. Questions, comments, concerns, previous experiences, preconceived notions, ungrounded prejudices, fact-based biases and obnoxious trolling are not only encouraged, but will be crucial factors in determining which Kingdoms our heroes’ Roads (heh heh) will lead them to next. Here is the current shortlist:
Over the next days and weeks, I’ll provide what information I can about each candidate to help you weigh the options. Each has its merits, each its pitfalls. They represent a vast spectrum of conditions; from hellish and hazardous to peaceful and placid. Some are safe for journalists, some dicier; all have their fascinations. Onward to this week’s highlighted destination:
Even in light of the recent troop withdrawal, Iraq wouldn’t seem like a very appealing destination. It hasn’t been great for foreigners for decades (post-2003: cannon-fodder; pre-2003: human shield). However, in the last twenty years, Kurdistan has effectively separated itself from the rest of Iraq and from its vicitimization at the hands of Saddam and other Iraqis. Kurdistan has gone so far as to call itself “The Other Iraq,” and the Kurds have managed to refashion their region into a rapidly developing modern state with all of the framework of independent governance. The Kurdish Regional Government lacks only, um, international recognition. Which is actually not a small thing. But they do have this: since the U.S. established a no-fly zone over the region following the First Gulf War in 1991, there has been (relative) peace.
Tourists, primarily Middle Eastern families and adventurous whites (that’s us!), have been flocking to Kurdistan to take advantage of its mountains and the burgeoning hub city, Erbil. Something that it makes a bit of a time warp: Kurdistan has benefited immensely from both Gulf Wars and have a mad affection for the U.S.A. and our former sheriff-in-chief, George D. Bush.
That might explain their almost-comical cheesy cultural output. Their famous musicians include mustachioed pop-star Aziz Weisi and Dashne Murad, revered by her people as “The Kurdish Shakira”. She doesn’t sing very well, but she’s probably the hottest Kurdish woman alive, so she seemed like a logical choice for a cultural icon. We admire Kurdish taste. Much like Texas taste.
Kurdish cooking, though, isn’t quite Kreuz Market. It’s more like typical Persian and near-eastern fare: a lot of shawarma, naan, kebabs, etc. They have many special dishes with kooky names… like kuki (a meat/vegetable pie). Sounds like a badass knish.
With the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Iraq, Kurdistan still sounds like a pretty newsworthy part of the world these days. Might also be a nice place for the boys to take a breather after being whipped through Burma. Next to Kachin State, Kurdistan sounds like paradise, of sorts.