Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Long Way Home

Spectacular, on so many levels. A fort made of mud dominates the river.  It was close, teasing close, but I couldn't get to it to explore, to hear the winds and listen for the past.  We drive on. On the right side of the road are sheer cliffs.  One is creased with cracks and chimneys. It looks like a good climb. Hard to judge distance and height in air this clear but it looks like at least a three-pitch climb. In the middle of it is an oval patch, maybe a hundred meters high and fifty wide that looks as smooth as a linen sheet. Has it ever been climbed? There are certainly no white marks from climbing chalk marring the surface.

To the destination, a picnic by a river.  The women are dressed in traditional costumes, brilliant as parrots, glittering like gold in the sun.  The men are more sober, but it is a formal
 affair- baggy pants and sashes and suit jackets.  Good food and talk. I spend most of the time playing with children. They have never seen a frisbee and it is fun and fascinating for the children and some of the adults.  Desert kids, they have never skipped rocks and the slow, shallow river is great for that. It is like magic that you can throw a rock that doesn't sink.

Musicians wander by and everyone dances. Almost everyone. I'm the first American to get pulled in.  The steps are simple and I don't mess up the line. A few others from the team get pulled in and I sneak out and continue taking pictures.

Music, good food- lamb skewers and kebabs- ( which are not the same things here). Fresh cucumbers and tomatoes. A bottle of Johnny Walker Blue.

We take the long way home. The long way here means skirting the North face of the range of mountains that we normally see from the south.  The big reservoir looks perfect for sailing with a few islands under desert hills. In the distance a cliff/bluff serves as background to a private home that could only be described as a palace. The sunlight is too bright, and the pictures don't do justice to the almost LOTR majesty of the sight.  I think I need a better camera.  From the lake, we head around the mountains. Vineyards.  A mudbrick village with
 goats among the houses and caves in the courtyards.

Looking at the hills, feeling the winds, this would be a perfect day and perfect place to unfold a wing and paraglide for hours over the nearly-empty valleys.

Steep cliffs, canyons. Green valleys. Storage huts made of woven reeds.  Small cattle clog the steep, winding road.  There are valleys, locally famous, where the peshmerga hid from and organized against Saddam's armies.  More caves. Waterfalls.

A land that has been inhabited since before recorded history, before modern humans for that matter and it still feels wild, untouched.  Beautiful.

The last day of March, I hit the 100,000 visitor mark on the blog.  Thanks.


Melissa said...

Beautiful pics Rory. I'm glad you are enjoying your adventure!

Unknown said...

I see why you described the women as "jewel-like". How beautiful they look!