The Spiritual Center of the Yazidi: Lalish, Iraq
In Iraq

The Spiritual Center of the Yazidi: Lalish, Iraq

Jul 17, 2011

I finally blogged (in brief) about my visit to Iraq, in case you are curious. Difficult to put so many intense & moving emotions, stories and experiences into words, especially a few days after the fact — but I gave it my best shot. Getting to Lalish was not easy. Mainly because I had to ...

Erbil… AKA Iraq’s Sausage Factory.
In Iraq

Erbil… AKA Iraq’s Sausage Factory.

Jul 17, 2011

Erbil is the shining capital of Kurdish Iraq; the place many dub the “next Dubai.” That’s a bit of a stretch, as Erbil will always be synonymous with a Sausage Factory to me. It is one of the most prosperous and safe cities in Iraq, as well as being the oldest continuously inhabited city in ...

Saddam’s Hussein’s former torture center, Amna Suraka
In Iraq

Saddam’s Hussein’s former torture center, Amna Suraka

Jul 17, 2011

Amna Suraka, which means Red Security in Kurdish, is Iraq’s first war crimes museum. It’s an imposing compound made of reddish concrete which was once one of Saddam Hussein’s most notorious torture centers and prisons. Countless people died and disappeared here, including women and children. The rooms of the prison are now set up to ...

My visit to one of the towns Saddam Hussein gassed: Halabja, Iraq
In Iraq

My visit to one of the towns Saddam Hussein gassed: Halabja, Iraq

Jul 16, 2011

On March 16, 1988 the town of Halabja Iraq, on the border of Iran, was gas bombed by Saddam Hussein’s military. WIthin 30 minutes more than 5,000 people were dead. Thousands more were left with complications which led to birth defects, cancer & terminal illness. This occurred during the final days of the Iran-Iraq war. ...

Sulaimani, Iraq
In Iraq

Sulaimani, Iraq

Jul 16, 2011

Although Erbil is the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, the city of Sulaimani (pop. 700,000, 40k from Iran) is the true heart & soul of Kurdish Iraq. On my way there from Erbil I encountered dozens of police checkpoints, very pleasant compared to checkpoints I had encountered in the West Bank. And, these checkpoints actually made ...

My new weekly travel series on PBS’s Tehran Bureau…
In Iran, press

My new weekly travel series on PBS’s Tehran Bureau…

Aug 3, 2010

Thank you Tehran Bureau! Week 1:  Zahedan Week 2:  Bam Week 3:  Bicycling across Iran Week 4:  Kurdistan Part I Week 5:  Kurdistan Part II Week 6:  Sufi Dervish Ceremony Week 7:  Road-tripping in Kurdistan Week 8:  Turkmenistan Week 9:  Couchsurfing with Hezbollah

In Art, Iran, Sufi

On my way to find the great Sufi master… meeting a new Guru, covered in plaster

Jul 11, 2008

Picking up where i left off, one of my new friends in Tehran, a photojournalist, tipped me off to a man here in Kurdistan who could introduce me to the Dervish (Sufi) order here & see if he could get me a rare coveted invite to a private cereony.   I followed the directions to the Sanandaj museum ...

In Iran

Adventures in Kurdistan Part I

Jul 9, 2008

I decided to come down to Kurdistan sans bicycle since it is a more “unknown” part of Iran.  Some friends back in Tehran expressed concern in my going becasue they believe Kurdistan is full of drug dealers & rapists.  Guide books do not say that however, and i knew much of my well-intentioned friends perceptions are colored by the media here & their portrayal ...