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THE IRAQI SERIES, DAY 5

SOUTHERN MESOPOTAMIA

Arm wrestling in the Iraqi marshlands. After a surprisingly decent nights sleep we ventured out within the banks of two of the worlds most famous rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris.

5,000 YEARS OF HISTORY IN ONE DAY

This is the first time that it was seriously cold, but never impossible to enjoy a sunrise!

CONDITIONS 

This place was like going back 500 years. It’s hard to describe but as the water covers such a huge area there are only these small pockets of land that can be lived or cultivated on. It’s so isolated that locals need to take a boat or swim to their neighbour or farmland, and don’t even ask about the electric or freshwater!

Local girl by a reed house on the marsh in Iraq. Arm wrestling in the Iraqi marshlands

Arm wrestling in the Iraqi marshlands

DAILY INFO….

  • HOTEL – Al Sahla $80/night
  • ATTRACTIONS –
    Iraqi Marshlands
    Ziggaret of Ur
    URUK

SADDAM & THE MARSHES 

Getting by on boat has been the only way here, that was until Saddam drained the entire marshes in the early 1990s. Saddam was notorious for coming down hard on dissent, disloyalty and competition. However, the marshes were different as he couldn’t control this area due to its difficult terrain, and during the uprising the rebels new this and were able to seek refuge.

This left Saddam with only one option; drain the marshes, destroy the lives of the farmers, many of them innocent and kill off the entire ecosystem. This lasted for several years and our host Abu Haider left the marshes for over 10 years, but even after a decade in Baghdad he returned to what will always be called home.

Arm wrestling in the Iraqi marshlands

  FACTS ABOUT IRAQ
  • The name “Iraq” means “deeply rooted, well watered; fertile” in Arabic. It has been in use since before the sixth century.
  • Iraq has more than 22 million date palms and is one of the top three date producers in the world.
  • Iraq is home to the ancient city of Babylon, which was once the largest city in the world and known for its Hanging Gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

To end our time here, our host, Abu Haider who is an absolute nutcase, and one of the most famous Marsh Arabs gave us a quick chorus. Turns out not only can he arm wrestle but can sing too!

Arm wrestling in the Iraqi marshlands

 RELATED READ: PETRA, AN INCREDIBLE WONDER

ZIGGURAT OF UR 

There are few places on earth that can compete with the history of Mesopotamia, an area as old as time itself. We checked the Ziggurat of UR, a 4,000 year old city before making our way to one of the oldest cities in the world…URUK.

Arm wrestling in the Iraqi marshlands

URUK

This place was a mix of amazement, confusion and disappointment. It was such a shame that this place was so quiet, we were only one of two groups, both free to walk around the tons of crockery and artefacts that lay strewn on the ground. It was an archaeologists wet dream and besides having a guard present, there was very little red tape. I have no doubt if this was anywhere else there would be boardwalks and ropes to help look after it. We have a lot to thank this place for, such as the first spoken & written words and the first poetry.

NAJAF

On our way into Najaf we stopped at a small roadside diner, no longer my preference since my issue in Afghanistan. However, this turned out to be a lot of fun as I was swept into the kitchen for a tour and introduced to every employee in the place. Experiences like these make a average trip into a great trip…only in Iraq!

TODAY’S YOUTUBE VIDEOS

If you want to see today from a different perspective, and catch a few different stories from the front row, then check out today’s YouTube videos below.

FINAL THOUGHTS

People often think Iraq has little to offer but if the last few days are anything to go by, we have an intense 2 weeks to go!! I have not visited a country quite like it!

NEXT UP

Shrines & the best sweets in the world!! Click to read. 

SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
160/229

This post is part of The Iraqi Series, for the entire series click here or for episode 1, click here.

To watch the video of my trip, head to my highlights on my Instagram.

Question Time

  • Do you like to spend holiday chilled or intense?
  • What do you think of the history of Iraq?

Let me know in the comments below . . .

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