Welcome to Iraq

After a couple of days in wealthy Kuwait, we were prepared to cross the border to Iraq. We needed a special “green” paper to leave Kuwait to Iraq, which we had obtained at the airport. When entering in Kuwait, we had used the Carnet de Passage, but when we wanted to leave the country, they didn’t find our car in their computer system, and it took 2.5 hours until they finally found it. Probably some misspelling of the registration number, we don’t really know. They invited us into their air-conditioned office and offered us water and tea while we waited.

A lot of papers for the border

The Iraqi side was a little bit more chaotic, but a nice lady handed her fixer over to us, which was very helpful. You need 3 sets of copies of the passports, which you have to deposit at different container offices. You pay some fee for the Carnet de Passage in some dubious place, but everybody goes there. We got Visa on arrival for about 78 USD, as soon as the officers were back from lunch. Our fixer was a lovely guy, and he was happy with the 7 Euros we gave him for his help. We remembered fixers in Africa asking 80 USD.

Iraq was the first country, where we saw burning gas at the oil fields. Later we learned that they don’t use the gas, only the oil.

Bridge in Basra

After the border, we had some Dinar, but no SIM card, as it was Friday and the office at the border was closed. We drove to Basra, the first big town at the Shatt al-Arab river, which is formed at the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers further north. We found a money exchange, but all the Asiacell shops were closed.

Therefore, we decided to spend the night in Basra, and get our SIM card the next day. Basra has a bit of a new Corniche, which is very popular, as it just opened. We parked there and went on a short boat cruise to the new bridge. A big crane was lifting ship wrecks out of the river and depositing them on the bank. Some remains of the war, it seemed.

We spent the evening at the Corniche, observing the locals and for sure an attraction for them. Some used their little English to great us, others asked to take a picture with us. Everybody was very nice, and we heard “Welcome to Iraq” many times.

In front of Ebn.Alarandas – best sweets and ice cream in town

Later we met Mohammed and his girlfriend, who invited us to go out to dinner with them, which we happily accepted. They both spoke very good English, and we had a great time with this lovely couple. First we went to a very good Burger restaurant, where people use plastic gloves to eat their burgers, a new experience for us. Afterwards, we walked past a big shopping mall to a very popular pastry place with fantastic ice cream. Everything was really delicious, and the place was packed with families out for a sweat treat on a Friday night. We really enjoyed our time with the young couple, and it was very interesting talking to them.

@ 99 Grill – very delicious burgers

We spent the night at the Corniche, which was not the perfect place at all for a night in the camper. The area was brightly lit like day, people were coming and going with their cars or strolling along the Corniche all night, and it was very hot. But we survived and the next morning we got our SIM card – unlimited Internet for one month for about 28 Euros, the best deal ever.

We left Basra to continue north to the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.

Imam Ali

Along the road were numerous pictures like this of a good-looking man. We wondered who that might be, especially as pictures of persons are not allowed in Islam. We later found out, that it was Imam Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad and very important to Shia Muslims.

Confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers

From here we turned west, to visit the marches of Mesopotamia – more soon.

1 thought on “Welcome to Iraq”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *