I’m having a second day on the wagon having excelled myself at the weekend. A select few of us went to Erbil for a taste of the big city, and to get away from the smell of drains in the dig house. Erbil is thought to be the oldest continuously occupied city in the world, but fortunately all of the cultural sites were closed so we fell back on the old standby of eating our own body weight in kebab and drinking. First we drank in a German bar full of Americans where they mostly played Johnny Cash, and then in an American bar full of Germans where they mostly played Bob Marley. The American bar had the added novelty of being situated inside the US secure military zone, meaning that to enter I had to surrender my passport, phone and camera to a very clean man with a very large semi-automatic rifle. He called me “ma’am”, which, under the influence of two large German beers and a can of Bitburger I bought and drank in a dark alley behind an SUV on the way, I found utterly hilarious.
Fully x-rayed, metal detected and tagged, I then proceeded to the bar where I drank heroic quantities of reasonably priced Turkish larger, won an animated game of darts and danced in new and surprising ways. After this events are less well established. I remember spending some short time in a kitchen with an Iraqi barman while he made me a bracelet out of American army boot laces. I was in a car at some point, and in a house where I ate cake with some new friends. I don’t remember going back through security but that must have been an interesting experience all round. I remember some walking around in deserted streets, then I woke up on a sofa in some physical distress, with the Iraqi barman’s t-shirt under my head and whipped cream in my ear. They know how to party in the Kurdish Autonomous Region.
Bacon is the only known anti venom for this sort of poisoning, but as it turns out, a couple of hefty lamb shish kebabs and a coke can have some palliative effect. So 10:30am found me in a meat-induced coma with two fellow sufferers. Revived, I did some unwise carpet shopping and then spent four hours in a car shaking and looking at the horizon.
My convalescence progresses well, I may be ready to try a modest shandy by lunchtime. I promise I’ll write something about the archaeology next time and less about my low-level alcoholism.