“Where have you been lately?” asked a friend.
“I've been to Iraq,” I answered.
“Did you go to the north?”
“Did you go to Erbil?”
“Then you don't say you've been to Iraq.”
Well... Exactly my sentiments! I've been thinking the same thing. Yet, Erbil, for what it is, even though it is Kurdistan, even though it is semi-autonomous, it still is a part of Iraq. When you take the UN countries as a reference, there is no sovereign state of Kurdistan; thus, it is Iraq.
Still... I would have preferred to go to Baghdad. On the other hand, I am not on my own anymore. I have a family, a family of my own, a husband and a daughter that I am responsible to (and for). I cannot put my life at risk so easily as I did in my bachelor days. I might still have gone to Baghdad, had it not been for the visa. I could get into Erbil without a visa. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs website was full of warnings that the entrance from Erbil did not grant the right to go to Baghdad or any other regions than Iraqi Kurdistan for that matter. There were many Turkish citizens who were put to jail because of that. If you wish to go to Baghdad, you need to get a visa. End of story.
Perhaps, or rather hopefully, I'll get to Baghdad too one day. For now, Erbil, -with its 7000+ years old Citadel, one of the oldest continuously occupied human settlements, a UNESCO World Heritage site,- will suffice.
Have I been to Haiti?