Day 15 Eridu, Tell al-Ubaid, Ur and Nasiriyah
With our police escort we drove to Eridu across a fine sandy desert, littered with the remains of the last Iraq war. Sumerian legend has Eridu built before the Great Flood and it certainly dates from 5,000 BC. The ziggurat is the only remaining structure, full of wonderful pottery and the gorgeous room cones. It must be at least 40 degrees this morning, and it soon rises to 47 degrees at mid-day. It’s searing hot and difficult to walk in the heat reflecting off the sand.
We then take off again over the desert (how does the driver manage to drive so safely over the soft sand covered roads?) to Tell al-Ubaid, the small town that gives the baseline date for all pottery (6,000 BC black & white pots). It’s another fantastic site and we’re the first visitors here for years.
As we got to Ur, disaster struck me. At the one place I’d dreamed of coming to for years I was struck by stomach cramps which were entirely self-inflicted due to breaking a lifetime’s travel habit and drinking an ice cold can of lemonade before we got there. Apart from a brief look from the top of the reconstructed ziggurat, I spent the rest of the visit in the coach, mainlining Imodium.
The rest of the group saw the Queens’ tombs and then walked 1 kilometre to Abraham’s House in blistering heat. Everyone suffered that day.
We walked together along the Corniche, by the River Euphrates and were viewed with amazement by the families coming out for their evening stroll. The town is run down, though it looks as though it was an expensive place when it was first built. Some of the large houses still have bullet holes, testifying to the US marines vicious battle here in 2003 (nicknamed Ambush Alley). We’re aware that the British are not well received here.
A lovely man with his two young sons stopped to talk to us. His brother lives in Perth and both boys spoke perfect English. It was delightful having a normal chat. It started to go wrong when M and A tried to take a photo of the statue of the Turk killing the British (1914-18 war) and were stopped by the police. Our escort police Captain pulled rank and they backed down but we were then told that all photos in town were forbidden.
Our hotel here was very good, definitely 4 stars, but the restaurant food was poor and the Captain was very unhappy with the boring, dry meat kebabs. One of our escort’s obvious perks is to eat well with the foreigners. We took tea in the main foyer where all the businessmen meet. The gilded furniture was faux French Louis xvii, extremely expensive looking, and there was also a mocked up Bedouin tent. D and I are the only females here and it feels a bit weird.
We have a luxurious suite to ourselves. It’s marvelous but we are kept awake by a generator which kicks in every time there’s a power cut (four times since 2.30 am). It’s a small price to pay for a bathroom that works properly and having big comfy sofas to sit on in our massive living area. We’re definitely feeling spoiled this evening.