My first move in Iraq was an unusual one. I had been putting off having a haircut for quite some time and just felt it couldnt wait any longer. So after entering one barber to find everybody too busy watching prayers on TV, I found another friendly soul who gave me the works and expected no payment. He took my money eventually over tea and despite having approximately no common language, they all seemed remarkably friendly for guys supposed to be hell bent on blowing people up. Zakho was a functional town, larger than I had expected and had only one point of note which I went in search of. I couldnt find its famous old bridge however despite traipsing out in all directions, but I did find the taxi stand for Dohak in the process. Wary of being ripped off I sought help from some nearby traffic cops and was duly boarded into a taxi for a very reasonable 5000 Dinar to Dohak. After a long climb out of town we followed the main highway for so far before reverting to some rugged unofficial shortcuts. It suited me fine, I was well aware that the main road led to dodgy Mosul. We passed a refugee settlement with people still living miserably in small UN donated marquee tents, and further on there was a Collective town, one which had been knocked up quickly to settle what I guessed would have been displaced Kurds or forcibly settled nomads. Whether these were a result of the Allied invasion or earlier recriminations by Saddam I could not tell. It was a pretty straightforward route into Dohuk, a sizeable city which lay cradled between two mountain ranges. The taxi dropped me conveniently right by the hotels beside the bazaar, and after searching for the one recommended by Ant without success I plumped for another where the young boy Mohanned remarkably spoke English. All very civilised.
After a debacle with a wrong phone number, Anthony an Ozzie guy I had been in touch with through the net materialised suitably amiable and accommodating. We shared a standard Kurdish restaurant dinner whereby they throw all kinds of food at you until theres no more room on the table, and certainly more than you could eat. You only pay for the main course all the same. He took me back to the small compound where he lives and works as an instructor for a Swedish charitable organisation called Diakonia. Its a Greek word meaning Strong seemingly. He teaches disadvantaged kids photography at a day centre and Ant also explained over a few long promised beers that they help street kids, illiterate people, battered wives and autistic folk.