Saturday, September 19, 2009

Iraqi Acient cities travel wish wishlist: If only....

In actuality, I would like to visit the Iraq beyond Kurdistan. Unfortunately, travel to the areas south of Kurdistan has become more difficult as a separate visa for the South is now required. Bye bye to dreams that I would make a quick jaunt to Baghdad some weekend soon (Ok, I did realize hoping Baghdad would be safe enough to consider this was likely a fantasy all along). Out too goes dreams of visiting Najaf - most important city for Shias; ancient cities of Babylon; Ur... But what really irks me is that there are absolutely fascinating places to go north of the border between Kurdistan and South Iraq that are also inaccessible! People visit Petra in Jordon, Palmyra in Syria and Baalbek in Lebanon, but I'd like to see Hatra in Iraq! This and the sites of many other ancient Assyrian cities are located within a 2-hour drive of Erbil: Nineveh (which is also a region), Nimrud, Khorsabad, Ashur... I am sure that I could find a driver who could find his way to these sites, but believe that (aside from the fact that they are too close to Mosul and I would likely be denied access)with the exception of Hatra, it is possible that I have already seen the best of these cities unfortunately displaced (or fortunately preserved?) in the halls of the Louvre and the British Museum.
The map and picture above comes from an article on the lost treasures of Iraq by National Geographic. If any NGO workers here in Erbil every plan a trip to Hatra, please consider taking me. I have no wasta, but am sure to be able to find something I can exchange for the great honor of being smuggled into this site. (English lessons for local staff? Indian food cooked from scratch?)

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