So today I went into Basra again. The city looks sort of neglected and there are a lot of empty buildings which contrasts with the street full of cars. It is rare to see women as you are driving along. Today there were a couple of women completely veiled, so eye slits, complete black over the face, begging. They look like faceless black ghosts.
On the drive in we pass by several checkpoints, I’m always wearing a hijab and I always look down or away from the guard when we go through the checkpoint. Right now it is Ramadan so all good Muslims are fasting from sun up to sun down.
Whenever I’m driving into Basra I have to sit in the back seat, women don’t usually sit in the front, even if there are only two passengers the woman will ride in the back, the exception to this seems to be trucks. The other day I saw a woman riding shotgun in a truck. But for the most part when you are driving through Basra you see men driving, I have not once seen a woman at the wheel and women when you see them are in the back seat.
We drive by a park that has green bushes and brown grass and then there always seem to be lines of cars for different things not sure what. Little boys often walk between the cars selling tissues mainly sometimes candy. Most women that you do see are dressed completely in black. As you enter into Basra you see the slums and it is amazing what people can make into a home.
The main roads are in fairly good shape and as you drive along there are stores operating, what is funny to me is that they sell furniture out in the open. So you’ll be driving by and there is all this furniture just sitting out in the dust.
Basra is the second largest city in Iraq, 3 million, next to Baghdad, yet none of the bigwigs come here to visit and there aren’t any really tall buildings, probably due too the years of war, they make or made too good of targets.