Despite Iraq's reputation for second worst travel destination and It's tumultuous current events portrayed in the news it's heart is still beating stongly. On my last trip (Jan 2016) I visited most of the autonomous Kurdish region in the north.
I spent the majority of my time in Sulaymaniyah (Slemani), Kurdiststan's second largest city. Besides the influx of IDPs (Internally Displaced Peoples) everything felt like business as usual. Even the rainy January days were no deterent for all the vendors and shoppers going about their lives.
At this first glance everything was fine, but under the surface much of the country is suffering. At this point, many government employees, including policemen and teachers, have not been paid for months. Rolling blackouts are increasing from an expected 4 hours per day to 12. 
Many people I spoke to were not hopeful; not satisfied with their own government, and not enjoying being the center of attention in the region and the world stage. There are two convergences happening in Kurdistan: Military and Civilian.
On the eastern border Iranian soldiers have been seen crossing back and forth into the country. Turkey has been stratigically bombing the region, while the US and Russia are effecting their agendas. Meanwhile, diplaced citizens from all over the contry are making their way to Kurdistan, as it's the most safe and stable region of the country.
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Baking bread
Loading up a truck for food distribution to IDPs in Dokan.
Slemani Bazaar