Blogs from Iraq, Middle East


Middle East » Iraq » North » Mosul October 30th 2021

The Sun is raising some time between five and six in the morning. I am opening my tired eyes and the first thing what I notice is the city sign of Tikrit - somewhere here we can find the birth village of the notorious dictator Saddam Husain. I am just passing the area which was occupied by the radical organisation Islamic State in the years 2014 to 2017. I am sitting in the shared taxi with two other people. I have convinced them and the driver that I am a tourist. Would you believe it? A tourist in Iraq? Yes, that is me and I am traveling to Mosul - the city where no tourist eye has been seen for almost 20 years. And so the real adventure begins. Behind the gates of Nineveh I am ... read more
After ISIS - Mosul
Destroyed church - Mosul
Iraqi cowboys - Mosul

Middle East » Iraq » North » Arbil March 22nd 2019

Karl May once wrote adventure novel called Durchs Wilde Kurdistaneven though he had never been there before. We went to the center of that area in nowadays Iraq, straight to the mountains. Is Iraqi Kurdistan really wild? Let´s see. I like seeing places where there is almost impossible to meet tourists. Because of that you are able to get to know locals better - too see who they truly are. Also, you will have a unique travelling experience. Nowadays, everybody can travel everywhere. Massive tourism is killing "spirit "of countries that is often hard to see. Luckily, there are still places that you can discover or re-discover. Mountain range Zagros can be considered to be one of these places. These mountains take big part of today's Iraq and Iran. And we stood right ... read more
Before the start
View to Halgurd
Iran mountains

Middle East » Iraq » North » Arbil July 22nd 2018

My day started at 4am not much point in going back to sleep when I needed to be at the airport in an hour, so I packed a few more things, took out the garbage and headed down to the cab rank. Twenty-five minutes later I had cleared immigration got my US$ and settled in till departure. The flight departing before mine was going to Bagram in Afghanistan and was full of American servicemen, I was sitting there amongst Africans wondering why they were going to Iraq when it dawned on me they were catching the flight after mine. A little after 7pm I headed through the gate and out to the bus, I positioned myself right near the front door as I had seat 2C and figured I could be seated before the rabble realised ... read more
Mat Mattia monastery
Mat Mattia monastery
Mat Mattia monastery

Middle East » Iraq » South » Basra April 5th 2017

So, as is inevitable, I got back to the daily grind and didn't finish up the journal. But I am doing so now. It will be less fresh but I'm committed to seeing it through. Wednesday was our last day. And it started with operating on Ali, our host. He had a tibia fracture 8 months ago after he was hit by a motorcycle and it was fixed in Lebanon because that was the nearest country that had the materials to fix it in a modern fashion. He was having difficulty moving his ankle properly and after examining him I realized that one of the screws that holds the internal rod inside his tibia had impaled and pinned one of his tendons to his bone. So we decided to remove this screw and check out the ... read more

Middle East » Iraq » South » Basra April 4th 2017

Tuesday Yeah, went to bed earlier just to wake up at 1:30 am this time. But I feel less wrecked than yesterday. I did a mini hotel work out and now I’m drinking my instant coffee and having some quiet time while overlooking the pool. I haven’t ever seen anyone in this beautiful pool… I’d like to see a Burkini. After breakfast, I head to the medical school and give a lecture to the students. Women are seated on the right, men on the left. They interact with me if I ask direct questions but mainly it’s just like a U.S. medical school lecture: some paying attention, some nodding with various points, some nodding off, some disinterested. I try to focus on a few keys points rather than hammering them with too much information. Rick leaves ... read more

Middle East » Iraq » South » Basra April 3rd 2017

Ugh. Every night I’ve been waking up at 3am with severe trouble falling back asleep. I had plans to go to the gym but I just have to sleep more. Ali picks me up at 8:30am after I down incredible amounts of instant coffee and we pick Scot Hoffinger up from the medical school where he is giving a lecture. There are large hanging signs in the building featuring the graduating medical students in different movie or TV scenes (Soprano’s, Suicide Squad, etc). It’s awesome! Great to see the students having fun. Iraqi medical training is a combined program of medical and undergraduate education for 6 years – much like Australia and European programs. I am excited to give my talk the next day. As I have been informed, there is only one female Orthopaedic surgeon ... read more

Middle East » Iraq » South » Basra April 1st 2017

Conference starts at 8:30 after breakfast. I slept poorly with some mild anxiety of unclear origin, probably somewhat related to the struggles of the surgery. I don't like not being my best, the best, and it's hard to be hindered by the environment. I need to get over myself already. So many interesting cases are presented. Gun shots, polio, infections, delayed presentations of congenital abnormalities. We see a case of hydatid disease- pretty much cystic tapeworm Infestation of the body, often fatal and extremely difficult to treat. Think: cysts full of tapeworm eggs that burst and clog up important organs. Takes a lot to gross me out, but... yuck. I find out there are three foot and ankle specialists in the entirety of Iraq. I meet one from Baghdad who hopes to come shadow me at ... read more

Middle East » Iraq » South » Basra March 31st 2017

I’m writing this while sort of listening during the conference and scratching the 7 bug bites on my legs (who knew, mosquitoes in Iraq). So pretty similar to what I would be doing during a conference in the States. The conference resembles most any orthopaedic conference. I am the only woman. There are some women vendors working the booths outside, all in hijabs. Rumor has it there is a female plastic surgeon from Germany who will be speaking but I haven’t seen her yet. However, everyone is very welcoming and I feel no weirdness or strangeness as a woman. The other surgeons are warm and we make introductions and discuss our practices. We have expert speakers and case presentations. It is all in English and there is a vendor hall with freebies and treats for the ... read more

Middle East » Iraq » South March 31st 2017

We head through security and we check in to our VERY nice hotel. At this point, I break and beg for lunch. I kick myself for not eating the breakfast on the flight. We ate at 5:30am and have been travelling for 10 hours. And I’m a wuss. A buffet for all 3 meals comes with the hotel so we sit for lunch with Ali. Ali is an orthopaedic surgeon and Thamer’s son-in-law (Scott previously told me that Thamer “groomed him” to marry his daughter). He is very kind. The buffet is large and includes many fresh salads (Fatoosh, etc), lentil soup, kabobs, grilled fish, beans, yogurt, hummous and tea. I’m going to be happy here. I feel much better. It’s around 3:30pm and the next scheduled event is a dinner at 8pm. Time for a ... read more

Middle East » Iraq » East » Baghdad November 2nd 2016

The Swahili City states went through their collective apex from 600-1450 AD because of the Indian Ocean Trade Networks. The majority of these city states went under the control of the Sultan empire. After this all were later conquered by the Portuguese empire where their trade economies all remained relevant but their roles were diminished in some capacities. While the Portuguese never gained full control of the cities, their dominion was enough to weaken the independent cities' trading power, and after the Portuguese threat had been removed, the city-states never fully regained their dominance or significance in trade. Today the cities mentioned in this blog have vastly different economies from one another, however, areas along the East African coast are still very involved in international trade, some of which occurs on the same trade routes used ... read more

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