“Yesterday I shot with an AK-47 Kalashnikov. Today I am having picnic in the middle of a green field. Still in Iraq doing fine.”
That was the first sms I sent to my family after days of riding across the country. Written in a hurry, I had no idea how awkward and surreal it would seem. After all they didn’t have a clue where I was the last days and Iraq is a very awkward and surreal place to be. The country’s name is related to war, weapons and terrorists. Media and TV only make it worse. When I decided to travel from Athens on my motorbike, I was scared shitless. Iraq wasn’t -and still isn’t- an ideal motorcycle road trip, particularly in this period. But it was the bet I had with myself; to overtake my fears, cross the boundaries and face this world, outside and inside.
So I jumped in the deep end… My camera, my partner to capture the real life, be in the center of action, feel not only see the culture, the people, the land. So simple and yet so extraordinary, real and true to itself, that once you view it, it conquers your eyes, head and heart: On the one hand security checks, armed forces, police, guns, Arabs, Kurds, poverty, wealth, signs of destruction and a constant feeling of threat. On the other hand warm-hearted people who opened their door, offered me food and a place to sleep, treated me with kindness, care and respect, made me feel safe and a member of their family. And that was the greatest contradiction of all; humanity untouched by human misery, morality untouched by class differences, a kind of inner beauty so hard to find. And a destination that proved to be so different from what people have in mind, offering a kind of travelling that never ever let you be the same.