My Brief "Adoption" by a Kurdish Family

Amadiya Travel Blog

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View of Amadiya on top of plateau

Since I had to wait for my flight ticket to be processed, I decided I would spend a couple nights in the small mountain town of Amadiya/Amedy which a number of the university students indicated was a very beautiful place.  Taking a shared taxi the 70 kilometres to the town of about 6,000 inhabitants showed a changing landscape highlighted by the traverse through a range of snow-dusted mountains.

 

On the other side of the pass, the taxi driver said something to me about Saddam that I did not understand but later realized he was referring to the mountain palace that sits on one of the peaks.

Looking towards Saddam's palace
  Apparently, Saddam built this palace because he loved the beauty of the Kurdistan region and also to demonstrate his reign over the region.


Once we approached Amedy, it was exactly as I had read, situated on a small plateau and clearly a very strategic site from a military perspective. 
Unfortunately, I quickly learned that the hotel in the centre of town was closed so I had to stay in the lower suburb area at the base of the plateau.  After unpacking, I immediately walked "up the hill"  to the main town.  This proved to be quite a hike   and as I took the stone staircase upwards, I noticed a collection of mine warning signs.

Street in Amadiya
  I had seen these on the drive from Dohuk and ultimately learned they were the handiwork of Saddam's army.  Fortunately the ones beside the stairway were not real indicators of live mines but someone's "collection" for what reason, I could not determine. 

Eventually, I got to the town and started to stroll the streets. 
However within a half hour, I was chatting to a group of young men enjoying a leisurely stroll on their day off.  These proved to be a group of young professionals, consisting among others of Havgar (lawyer), Fawsi (agricultural engineer) and Botan .  They were very friendly and as we walked described the various sites and were sure to point out the ancient entrance to the city. 

 

Shortly, they were asking if I wanted to join them for a picnic and not really understanding what that meant, I was initially a bit hesitant.

Enjoying a Kurdish picnic
  But after a while and seeing that these were all very nice fellows, I agreed to join them.  Before that, I was invited to Havgar's place to take lunch with his family.  This ended up being a wonderful experience with excellent food and I had the pleasure of also meeting Havgar's parents, brothers, sister-in-laws and nieces. 

Shortly after lunch we met up with the others for the picnic and after getting refreshment supplies and snacks,  headed off from the town onto back roads where the guys settled on a nice scenic spot beside a creek.  
After starting a small fire we ended up chatting and enjoying each others friendship. Of course, I also had the opportunity to learn how to dance a few steps Kurdish style.  On the way back to town Havgar was insistent that I stay at his home so I agreed  to do so on my second night.   After that, I was taken back to the hotel where I spent a very restful night appreciating the wonderful hospitality provided by my new found friends.
Dancing Kurdish style


The next morning, on schedule, Havgar picked me up and I immediately enjoyed a delicious and filling lunch with his family.  I especially enjoyed "talking" with his mother who although did not know much English, was still interested in trying to communicate with me.  I also found it interesting to chat a bit with one of Havgar's sisters-in-law who had recently married and moved back to Kurdistan from the Netherlands.  Hearing her thoughts on the cultural differences between being back in Amedy versus Europe was quite provocative.

Afterward, Havgar and I met with his friend Kovan and we wandered around Amedy streets. One of our first stops was the community hall building where there was a "party" going on.  We stopped in to observe the festivities (singing and skits)  which were quite entertaining considering everything was in Kurdish and with an all-male audience and performers.  
From there we took a look into the community gym where an indoor football match was occurring and then on to a small park with an excellent view of the mountains.
In Amadiya's community hall during performance
 

 

As we headed back, we also passed by the Turkish military installation  where several small tanks were parked.  Havgar explained that the Turkish army first came about 7 years ago when there was fighting between the PKK and PDK (different Kurdish political organizations).  However, even though the hostilities had ended, a Turkish contingent of about 15 soldiers remained in Almedy.    I found it so interesting that such politically motivated circumstances still prevailed in a sleepy and peaceful town like Almedy.

Later it was back to my "Almedy home"  for dinner and to chat more with my new family. 

It felt so comfortable and friendly with Havgar's parents and their hospitality was incredible.

Turkish armoured vehicles in Amadiya
  For me, the opportunity to spend such close time with new friends who treated me like one of their own was so special and the highlight of my stay in Almedy.  I will never forget my memorable connection to this small mountain town.

Aopaq says:
Yes, the Kurds are amazingly hospitable especially considering what they have gone through suffering under the Saddam regime.
Posted on: Feb 18, 2008
korrahh says:
amazing! the Kurds must be a very hospitable people.
Posted on: Feb 18, 2008
sheba124 says:
What a wonderful experience!
Posted on: Feb 17, 2008
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View of Amadiya on top of plateau
View of Amadiya on top of plateau
Looking towards Saddams palace
Looking towards Saddam's palace
Street in Amadiya
Street in Amadiya
Enjoying a Kurdish picnic
Enjoying a Kurdish picnic
Dancing Kurdish style
Dancing Kurdish style
In Amadiyas community hall during…
In Amadiya's community hall durin…
Turkish armoured vehicles in Amadi…
Turkish armoured vehicles in Amad…
Entrance gate to Amadiya
Entrance gate to Amadiya
Mosque in Amadiya
Mosque in Amadiya
An Amadiya home on the edge
An Amadiya home on the edge
My adopted family in Amadiya
My adopted family in Amadiya
Amadiya
photo by: Aopaq