Five British tourists, two Americans and a Canadian spent two nights there at the end of a tour of Iraq which has included historic sites as well as cities where extreme violence is still a possibility.
It’s a lovely little piece for Sunday. It’s upbeat, quirky and fits with the general drift of the narrative that’s coming out of Iraq.
We had country-wide elections with little violence, a recent poll says all is peachy and now western tourists are arriving. If you listen closely you’ll hear the sound of foreign desk editors picking up the phones to Baghdad to tell their reporters to head to Afghanistan, the story is so over in Baghdad.
Look, I’m all for it. Bring on the tourists, it’ll be fun. But this piece on the BBC is just a bit odd. The footage is filmed in front of Saddam’s old parade ground which is in the middle of the green zone. Normal folk, or should I just say it.. Iraqis, have no way of getting there unescorted. And they talk of visiting the ancient city of Babylon.. the last I heard is that an US army unit uses it as a base. You’d need security clearance to enter, no? I sort of suspect that waving foreign passports helps negotiate some obstacles but it’s still a bus full of people from foreign travelling through a country where kidnappings still happen – my father’s work associate still has no news from his wife and 4year old daughter who have been kidnapped late January.
All in all it’s a nice plug for Hinterland Travel, check out their website. The itinerary is quite impressive, they probably deserve the plug just for doing something as mad and wonderful as organizing tours in Iraq. Quite honestly I would have been interested in going on that 20 day tour as well. Besides the religious places and the souks they seem to get access to places I don’t think Iraqis are too welcome to. Waving a foreign passport here still makes you more welcome than pulling out an Iraqi ID. Sadly in most cases ‘assume terrorist until proven otherwise’ still applies to Iraqis.
All in all these tourists are very brave souls and I am very curious how the people at Hinterland Travel do this. Theire clients are probably signing a million waivers and disclaimers.
And just in case you were wondering.. yes, I am a little bit jealous. Sour grapes and all that.