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    Photo journal from my recent trip to Northern Iraq.
an Editorial
Throughout my short life I have been on many adventures and travelled to exotic countries around the world. But, few experiences have been as formative and eye-opening as my most recent trip. I had the privilege to visit my brother, and now, Sister-in-law there after rendezvousing with my parents in Ankara.

I had no idea what to expect. All possibilities were on the table. I could only guess at how established the infrastructure was? What people thought of Americans? And, if I would be safe?

As always, please take the time to enjoy the pictures and my attached observations on the culture.

Thank you!

 Andy Hemingway 
 A morning walk to the bakery for our daily supply of bread. A friendly smile is always a good companion to a camera.
 A young graduate holding his gallery submission. He is part of the One Shot Project that teaches Kurdish children the basics of photography.

We tried hard to communicate during the gallery show (without any success). However, I'm pretty sure he wanted me to fight another young man I had just met.
 A typical weekend on the main street.
 I made sure to shoot from the hip while walking in town trying to capture glimpses of the culture. Consent is rarely an issue to me, when I know enough of the language to express my intentions. 
I'm still trying to figure this one out. 
 Stopped by at a FRESH juice bar. 
 Cucumber with spices.
A roadside snack. 
 Best Kebaps in Suleymaniye. The waiters were pretty cool too.
 Enjoying some ice-cooled Hookah with an American back-packer I met in Suleymaniye. Smoking is honestly, one of the only past-times living in the city. But the company is always good; and Matt told me he didn't have a chance to pay for anything the whole time he was there!
Construction on the main drag was a common sight. It is easily one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Over the past year the car population has grown 25%, in a city of 1 million.
Most older men still wear Jili Kurdi (Kurdish Dress).
 While younger generations are slowly catching up to European style.
After this little bumper, both parties apathetically went on their way.

 I'm often envious of the simpler approach to traffic and liability: no harm done, why waste my time. 
As far as Developing Countries go, Kurdistan is doing extremely well, however, there were many clues that made the " Developing" Part apparent; such as the hardware store not having a generic hammer.
 This encounter shook me up. 

Mohammed is a living reminder of a failed foreign policy from past American administrations. During the Iran-Iraq war the Reagan Administration sold biological weapons and intelligence to Saddam Hussein for a relatively petty interest on our side.

Hussein then tested the biological weapons on the kurdish minority in the north. Many fled, crossing the border into Iran, and straight into Iran's mine-fields where Mohammed lost both his legs, his right arm, several fingers on his left hand, and left him partially blind and deaf. 
 Another construction project on the main drag, near my brother's apartment. An empty acre-sized lot closer to him sold for $4 million just before my visit. No doubt for a project similar to this.
 Amna Suraka

A few blocks in the other direction lies a museum and former prison, and the last of Saddam's strongholds in Suleymaniye. The prison, centered in a now prominent neighborhood, stood as a festering sore in the old city. The regime's contempt for the Kurdish people could not be tolerated. Sick of constant abuse and torture, the neighborhood rose up, using and weapons the could find they stormed the prison and killed the Ba'ath guards.
My father and I got a tour from and old family friend and former Peshmerga (Kurdish Freedom Fighter). 

Shown here pointing out all the artillery left to rot after the prison was overthrown.
This section of the museum is a memorial dedicated to all the people who were murdered at the prison. Each mirror shard represents a victim. There are 40,000 shards. 
 On the wedding day it's traditional for the bride and groom to hang out and drive around. (I'm guessing because that's what my brother and Sister-in-law did). 

It was hard to approve of their ride, though. This Lexus belongs to her uncle, who acquired during the war. It used to belong to Uday Hussein, Saddam's eldest son, who was notorious for being a sadistic psychopath. 

Photo credit: Mom
 My Brother, Sam, getting ready for the big day in his humble apartment.
 Collecting herbs atop the ancient citadel in Arbil, The capital of Kurdistan. The American embassy is moving here from Bagdad for safety reasons.
An interesting character we met in Arbil. An established artist and author in the region. 

 The Islamic concept of nothingness, a concept similar to Buddhist Sunyata: a detachment from the physical world. Beyond that, I cannot say much.