Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Back to winter....???!!!

Well,The weather here in Winnipeg had been quite nice- not blazing hot but not cold either, some rain but sunny days too. It had been just perfect enough for me to totally fill up my garden with seeds and plants (like tomatoes, watermelon, and flowers). All the plants love warmth and hate cold. In fact if the temperature might reach 0 C they will just shrivel up and die. Surely, (I thought), by 25 of May I should be safe. After all, they will be much happier in the ground then in little plastic containers. AND the sooner they are in the ground, the sooner I will be eating wonderful red tomatoes. (And, I want to be able to do that before I leave again for Iraqi Kurdistan).

[Those of you from Canada may also question the wisdom of planting watermelon in Manitoba and expecting to get fruit off of it. Well, I have a hot sunny wall and a lot of horse manure so I decided to give it a try. They are little tiny Manitoba watermelon. And if the don't work-- I will try again next year!]

Any way-- guess what happened as soon as this little hot loving plants were in the ground---. The temperature dropped and now I have to figure out how to cover all these little guys before tonight so I don't have to make another trip to the store to buy new ones and start all over again..

Well, as I procrastinate on figuring this out, I was looking at my photos that I took in Iraq the last 3 months and realized that I had never posted about the blizzard that we drove through on 18 March. So, because we are back to wearing coats AND because I know that those who are still in Sulaimani (and beyond) are baking in hot temperatures and need some cooling down, I will tell you about that day.

Two days before the celebration of Nawroz (spring and New Year) Mohammed, Lukasz and I headed out in M's truck for the mountains in the north. We wanted to have some follow up discussions in the village of Zhelea and Sidikan. The forecast was for rain and snow FLURRIES. But as we travelled and got up higher, it became obvious that the flurries were developing into something bigger.

We reached a checkpoint along the way where we are fairly well known. I saw the guard with the umbrella and asked M if he could sneakily take a photo of him. He tried unsuccesfully, but before we knew it several of the guards came running over to ask to take photos with us. So, of course then we were able to ask them permission too.

For some reason this guard made me think of Mr Tumnis in "Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe". Maybe it was the umbrella and the snow.

Mohammed really enjoyed the snow- at least when he was not driving in it.
The roads over the mountains were so bad that we had to stay the night in Cholman. There the roads were pretty clear. This is the next morning with beautiful blue sky. We received word that the plows had cleared the roads over the mountain pass to Sidikan.
The gorgeous house of a son of one of CPT's friends.

The shadows on the snow were lovely. This was at the highest point that we had to cross.
Lukas enjoyed the snow too
The villages we were going to visit were in the part that did not receive snow.

The village of Zhelea
The flat roofs are made of dirt. Some are rolled frequently with a heavy concrete roller, others are protected with blue tarps and rocks or small bags full of dirt.

After I had taken some photos of the villagers, my guide decided it was time for me to have a photo taken too.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Some of my favourite pictures of Iraqi Kurdistan

Some people send their rugs out to be washed. Others pull them out onto their roof or front yard and scrub them down with the water hose, a bucket of soapy water and a scrub brush. Then they are hung from the roof top, the water just rolls off and they dry quickly in the hot sun.

Our small livingroom rug was getting quite grimey so Pat decided he could tackle the beating and washing.
This woman and small boy were walking in front of our house. I imagine they were heading home to get ready for the evening meal.

 On my walk home from the bazaar I spied these boys practising an official pastime.

This mother and daughter were standing way up on the roof of their house. The mother did not know I was there and the girl just watched. As I took the photos a man drove up beside me and parked. As he got out of the car he said , "Aw juana?/She is beautiful?". That broke the moment.
These men meet in a vacant lot not far from our house. They find pieces of cardboard to sit on, set up a fine dominoes table and spend hours playing the game. I had observed them several times as I passed, so on one of my last days there this time I stopped to ask if I could take their photo. I fully expected some to say no and then I would not take one. But they were all quite willing. This actually was the third photo, after I had convinced them to continue with their game.

This was the first photo. They arranged themselves. My team mate Pat thinks that they look like a boy band.

Pigeons at the bazaar

This man sells sandwiches- the  typical fast food that is very cheap. Here he has falafel, chicken and chicken livers. His sandwiches were very tasty.

A tailor in his shop at the bazaar. It seems that the men have more public sewing places and they make the men's clothing. The women, like my friend Sharaban, have their sewing rooms at home and sew the women's clothing.

The sunset makes this construction zone look quite beautiful. They are building some sort of building to do with electricity near to our house.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Readjustment to Winnipeg and a visit to Sunneh

I am back in Canada after having a wonderful two week visit in Germany with my daughter Janelle and her husband Laurens. As always it takes me awhile to readjust to being away from Kurdistan. I have spent some time looking over the photos that I took in the last three months. I have found a few that I have not shared yet. For the Kurdish people who look at my blog I think that I will make some blog posts in the next months about my life here in Canada. So stay tuned to this space!!

I just read a recent post by my newest team mate, Carrie. She is an avid blogger/journaler and I am so happy because it means that I will be able to keep track of my team`s activities while I am gone this summer. Her blog address is http://spacklegeek.livejournal.com/ if you would like to follow her adventures.

The topic she wrote about is the team`s recent visit to Sunneh. I had a visit to the same village about a week before I left. It was one of the most wonderful trips of the last 3 months. I won`t write a lot, but I want to show you some photos of the wonderful people I met there.

Breakfast along the way (a lentil soup, and yogurt and bread.) On this trip we travelled with Soran and his taxi. Soran often drives us so knows what CPT is about. He is able to explain us to the guards at checkpoints.
Here is Lukasz with the English teacher for the older students. He had asked if we would be able to find him an English book on Greek mythology. L. found one while he was away in the US.

We taught some English classes to get to know the students and to let them get to know us. On the this trip teammate Laura started the process of videotaping for a short video on life in the village.

We set off with 3 girls and 2 boys from the Grade Nine class who also live in Sunneh. We asked them to tell us about and show us their village.

As we stood beside the kani/spring I took some portraits.

Two of the younger students (the older ones come in the morning and younger in the afternoon) joined us on the walk.

The beauty of the mountains around the village of Sunneh

The young man in the first portrait invited us to visit his home. The teacher told him that he needed to make sure we got lunch. So we walked to his house, met his family and had a wonderful simple meal of dolma and bread. Here is his sister and her baby girl.
His mother and her granddaughter.
His father. He told us that 12 years ago he encountered a land mine in the fields.

His mother proudly showed us what she was working on. She takes reeds and weaves them together with the many coloured strings. I believe she was saying that would become an enclosure for their sheep. (I was the CPter with the most Kurdish on this visit. I was very pleased with how much I was able to say and understand, but I missed a lot.)

The younger women left our meal early to continue making the bread. The dough is rolled out on the low table, placed onto the cushion and then laid onto the steel rounded oven. It turns out very thin and crispy. This bread keeps for a long time and then is rehydrated just before eating to make it softer.
After we left the first household we visited one of the girl's family. This is her grandmother.I have learned that a smile is not something to look for when taking photos.
This is her little brother. He was working hard at getting the nutmeat out of the walnut shell.