The Hills Are Alive....

I love nature and just being outside, but tree hugger that I am, even I was a bit skeptical when I saw hiking on the itinerary for the week. Hiking in Iraq definitely did not fit into the "stay indoors" instructions that one of my friends had ordered before I left.

The morning started out unusually cool and foggy and the first 30mins into our hike felt like something straight out of a spooky movie. We were in a valley (read: sitting ducks), within what felt like a stones throw away (but it was more like an hour's drive) from the Iranian border where 3 foreigners had accidentally crossed over and gotten arrested and there we were, just hiking away!

But who am I to let some silly fears stand in the way of a good time! Before I could think straight the sun was out in all it's 100+ degree glory and the young Iraqi girls (more than 100 of them) I was with were just moving along, singing to their favorite beats as they walked. As you can see, once I got past the dull brown, slightly ashy looking facade of my environment, there was beauty just waiting to be seen. These flowers (above) were one of the things that really caught my attention. I can't imagine what this place must look like in the spring!

This house was also something that caught my attention because it was so clearly built to blend in (or the guy was just using the stones at his disposal and wasn't really thinking about the look). I even noticed that one entrepreneuring man had set up a little farm at the bottom of a tiny waterfall. How he managed to get his produce out of this valley is really beyond me....but I loved that he was out there just doing his thing!

Note: I later learned that the ridge tops were being discreetly guarded by local military for our little journey....not to mention the security guys that were basically side-by-side with the expats as we walked through!

{Photos by Brandie and E. Elliott}

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