I kept a suitably low profile that morning until it was time to don my body armour and goggles, and after an enigmatic farewell to Andrea I was sat in the lead jeep of a 3 car convoy back to Arbil. With JC the other Scottish guy driving and Darren a New Zealand Maori guy sitting shotgun with a machine gun up front, I was in the back alongside thousands of rounds of ammunition and smoke grenades. It wasnt the done thing to chat and so I just sat like a prince and watched the same road I had just travelled rewind in reverse. At roadblocks we showed a Union Jack flag and were beckoned through, it certainly beat the Coaster. Upon approaching Arbil, David in one of the other jeeps queried over the radio whether I had left the room key, I had left it in the door I replied. I got the ultimate oneupmanship though when I had to tell them that we had inadvertantly left my 2nd (expired) passport at the guardroom, their screw up and I told them just to destroy it. Man, how I love to show petty power merchants their technical incompetence. They dropped me off outside the Sheraton, a quick and friendly affair which didnt call for any mucking about. I had the body armour and goggles off in seconds and was on my way with waves and smiles.
Much as the Sheraton would have been nice, I headed back to the less salubrious Kaleen Hotel in the bazaar where unfortunately I didnt find my Arab dentist friend but 3 others instead, including an assistant surgeon blitzed on Arak. So I got a liquid fuelled tirade on cancer treatment and prognosis, obviously his forte in English! Another of the guys worked for Aspen brand cigarettes, and though we had no common tongue I understood that nobody at his factory knew what Aspen was. So using my atlas and a game of charades I had to try and explain as best I could that it was a ski-ing resort in Colorado, I hoped it was a suitably quirky answer! Another crazy day.