The bus rolled through a canyon and deposited us at a stream about 1km south of the Turkish border, where we met with some Chaldean priests and sisters. Our mission was lunch. Eating in bodies of water is a common practice here. Lawn chairs and a table were set up in the stream, expats and Iraqis took off their shoes, and we relaxed in the refreshingly cold water. Flatbread, grilled chicken, and beef were served. For dessert, we ate fresh melons that had been cooled in the water.
Photo Credit: Rebecca Helms
This a mobile grill. The contraption on the right side is a hand powered fan that blows on the coals:
The tablecloth was washed in the river:
After lunch, some of our party decided they wanted to see Turkey. They crossed the stream and climbed up a hill and out of sight. A few minutes later, we heard two bursts of artillery fire. Everyone was worried that the expats heading toward the border were about to be blown up. We yelled for them to return, and they came back to the riverside. We did not hear any shooting after that, and we rode the bus away from the border and back to Ankawa with our lives and limbs intact.
So why was the Turkish army shooting off artillery? The Turks could have been shooting at PKK rebels, who often engage the Turkish army in skirmishes. Alternatively, the shooting could have been intended as a warning to our expats that they needed to stay on Iraqi side of the border. Whatever the reason, we now had a great story to tell everyone back home.