Friday, March 25, 2011


 Old Town

 Strange creepy statue

 218 year old book
 Dammstugan, the cabin we stayed in at Gransfors

 The Gransfors forge

 Very hot axe head

 Lots and lots of axe heads

 A fika (Swedish coffee and sweet stuff)

Testing out the snow banks!

Just spent a fantastic week in Sweden. One of the few direct flights out of Erbil! We spent a day in Stockholm before heading north to Gransfors to see a bit more of the Swedish countryside, including where they hand forge axes.We spent a few days there before heading back to Stockholm for a final day. All in all, it was a fantastic vacation.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Iraqi Kurdistan

I know, I know, long time and nothing written. Since I last posted here I have taken up a new teaching job in Kurdistan. It's been a pretty weird experience so far. I will take today as an example.

It's Friday, the Islamic day of rest, so no school, which means our weekend is Friday - Saturday and our week is thus Sunday to Thursday. A little temporally discombobulating. Nevertheless, we're adapting to it. We got up, had some breakfast and went for a little walk. There's an access road behind our neighbourhood which skirts the fields that lie between us and the airport. As we turned onto the access road we were met by quite a strange site; a flock of sheep (and a few goats) being herded along the mounds of earth that line one side of the road. Three young Kurdish shepherds were tending to the flock and paid less attention to us than the sheep did, who eyed us suspiciously while they chewed whatever greenery they came across.
We continued on our way, only to have a small car filled with soldiers stop behind us. The driver, quite excited it seemed, jumped out without applying the hand brake so, halfway out the car, had to fumble to stop it rolling away. He jogged up to us, smiling broadly, always a good sign. He asked if we spoke Arabic, we indicated that we didn't. That however did not discourage him from blurting out a stream of information, something about the direction we were heading in. A lot of thumbs up and smiles indicated that nothing was (hopefully) amiss. I nodded and tried to repeat whichever words sounded important in an understanding tone. Seemly satisfied with his work, he jumped back into the car and drove off again.
We wondered on a little further. I got distracted by some small bird of prey hovering over a grassy enclosure. Possibly a kite, but I'm not entirely sure what stalks the skies here in Kurdistan. By now the flock had caught up with us, we let them pass then headed home.
I feel the morning today neatly sums up most of my time here so far: lots of lamb and friendly people!