We were walking on a warm October evening through the Erbil Citadel, a World Unesco Heritage site in Iraq.
Since I was shooting video as well, as any combo photo/film shooter knows, there's a bit more production...
I was dripping tripods and stabilizers, with the cord of a mic pac trailing a good six inches out of my bag.
Photographers and filmmakers like myself are not inconspicuous.
I flatter myself that I do better than most, but the truth in this scenario is that I am a good six inches taller
than most women in Iraq and I am, as I was told by a neighbor of my friend,
"VERY white and yellow."
Therefore, as cameras can be less than popular in the Middle East
(for reasons personal, cultural, religious and security-oriented)
we decided to ask a friend who is in the Iraqi government to accompany us.
An English translator in the government,
he was delighted to speak English with us and endeavored to show a great deal
of Iraqi-Kurdish hospitality.
I am grateful, including because my camera was not taken or smashed...
The Erbil Citadel is the center of Erbil, it's beating heart.
The city roads expand in a round road pattern, mimicking it's round shape for miles.
It used to be a place of habitation, but is now a place of museums and is considered a world heritage site.
I am faster than most documentarians, but slow to someone who is used to the ease of phone filmmaking.
After a million stops with the tripod, running through crowds after a particular shot,
and eating a considerable amount of dust with every inhale,
I had worn out my companions.
Fortunately, kebabs and shawarma abound in the bazaar next to the citadel.
Our Kurdish friend lost no time sharing great hospitality...
dusty and hungry, we sat down to eat steak and pita.
We swapped stories, all of us curious about the others.
One particular story grasped my attention.
"When my friend moved to Texas, we were all very afraid for him," he said abruptly.
"We see how Texas is in the movies. Guns, shootings, snakes, cowboys... it's the Wild West!
We were all so scared for him. What is Texas like?"
I looked at him in amusement.
Any friend that knew I was bouncing around Iraq was praying for my life...
which I appreciate, certainly...
I looked at him.
"Everyone in Texas is scared to death of Iraq... because of what they see on the movies."
We looked at each other in amusement, jointly hoodwinked by movies.
Hollywood is not people.