Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's Almost Like Paris

The Eiffel Tour
Because I lived in London for seven years, I had the good fortune of being able to hop on the Eurostar and be in Paris in 2 1/2 hours for a three-day weekend or longer.  Friends in the United States would be amazed when I said I was going to Paris for the weekend (not realizing that you can get to almost any European city from London in 2-3 hours).  I've made many wonderful memories there, from the first time I visited with my family in 1989 to trips over the last several years with Jim, my friends (Julie, Martha, Sophia, Jane), nieces, nephew and my youngest sister.  And Paris is truly the City of Romance;  my son, Christian, and his wife, Daisy, became engaged there in 2009, Christian proposing to Daisy on the Pont Neuf.
Produce Store
I love so many things about the city, including the caf├ęs, the restaurants, the shopping and the way Parisians buy their food.  Every day most people in France visit the vegetable and fruit seller, the baker, the butcher, the fromager and so on to buy the food necessary for that day's meals.  And we do exactly the same thing here in Suly (with occasional trips to the supermarket).   Right down the street from our house is one of the most popular bakeries in town. 

Morning shopping at the bakery

As I walk by there each morning on my way to work shouting "bayanit bash" (good morning) and each evening on my way home shouting "ewarat bash" (good evening), people are lined up for fresh, warm bread just out of the oven (the bread is round rather than long like a baguette).  And produce stands abound selling whatever is in season.  We do not get the variety of produce available in Europe or the USA -- no blueberries from Chile or Africa -- but what we get is usually pretty delicious.   Tonight we had rotisserie chicken and tomatoes that were really red and really tasted like tomatoes (those of you forced to eat squarish -- so more fit in a box -- anemic looking tomatoes must be dying with envy).
Chicken Man
And the market bazaar!  It sells everything imaginable from live animals (chicks -- oddly enough in pastel colors -- rabbits, racing pigeons, chickens, etc.) to rugs to clothes to electronics to the greatest collection of extruded plastic products you've ever seen, all at very reasonable prices.  Now if there was only the Eiffel Tower here in Suly.  The only thing in Sulaymaniyah that rivals is a tall modern building still under construction -- but I'm told it will never be finished because it is not safe.
Selling chicks at the bazaar
If Suly is Paris, then Duhok and the surrounding area must be Kurdistan's version of an Alpine town (without the snow).  I was there last week meeting my Duhok Access to Justice team and it's quite a lovely city set amid mountains  (or large hills), lots of beautiful flowers, including gigantic dahlias, one of my favorites, and lots of trees (relatively speaking Iraq-wise). There was even a waterfall.  We stayed in Duhok's version of a 5-star hotel where my room had a balcony with a lovely view overlooking the town and the mountains (unfortunately I did not have my camera with me so will have to take pictures next time I'm there). One difference between that hotel and the Georges V, however, stems from the fact that Iraq is almost totally a cash economy because the banking system is just not very good.  So the hotel does not take credit cards and there may be perhaps one ATM in town that may or may not work (woe to the foreign traveler who arrives unprepared).  Differences between Duhok and Suly include the fact that they speak different dialects of Kurdish and Duhok is a more conservative governate, so almost every woman has her head covered (which is not the case in Suly).  
Jim and his friend at the local "7-11" that sells Diet Coke
On the way to and from Duhok we stopped in Erbil, the capital of the KRG. My counterpart at the WEO who is working on the A2J project in Erbil and I met with the Kurdish Lawyers Association to garner continued support for the A2J project's plans for Help Desks in the courthouses in Suly, Erbil and Duhok -- which hopefully will make access to justice easier for those who find it inaccessible now.  Heartland colleagues and I also met with DOJ lawyers to discuss Iraq's proposed anti-trafficking law.  And before returning to Suly, we stopped at the Majidi Mall in Erbil -- and it is a REAL indoor mall with international stores (e.g., United Colors of Benetton).  It has three ATM machines (though I'm told only one works well) and a large store that sells groceries, electronics, toys, bedding, clothing, hardware, etc. -- I felt like a kid in a candy store.
Majidi Mall
But although it was nice to be able to get money from an ATM and buy items with a credit card, it's very much like any number of US malls -- so I'll take the Suly market bazaar anyday.
Overlooking the market bazaar


  1. Lynn,
    So pleased to read your posts and impressed by your retirement choice.
    Thanks for letting us know what you are up to.
    Doris and David

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