It seems no two airport experiences are alike, even at the same airport.
The last time I passed through Iraq’s Erbil International Airport my bottle of water breezed right through security. Not this time. I had to drink it before proceeding any further. The rules were posted, but last time they weren’t enforcing them. This time they were. (As an addendum I note the water I received on the plane was okay with the screeners in Istanbul, the same people who took my water bottle from me two weeks ago today. It’s not the rules I object to, it’s the inconsistencies.)
So I am well hydrated, waiting for a flight to Istanbul and wondering why this shiny new building is leaking. There are buckets everywhere to catch the drips from the ceiling. Ans it’s not even raining outside. I don’t know when this terminal was constructed, but I would think within the past decade. It shouldn’t leak.
This morning’s security shift seems to be especially zealous. One of my companions has coffee, in the sealed package it was in on the grocery store shelf. Not acceptable, unless he checks his carry on. He already had to shift his belongings after the first x-ray, before we got to the terminal. Seems his guitar cable was suspicious.
Okay, I understand that one, if you don’t play guitar you have no idea what it is for. And I really am thankful that security is tight. After all, I’m going to be on that plane. I think though that I would be a little more gracious about it if it wasn’t 2:30 a.m. If I was the complaining type I would note that it has been six months since my last visit here, and the airport still doesn’t have WiFi.
I guess there are other priorities. Erbil is the capital of Kurdistan. There has been fighting not that far from here recently, as the Peshmerga, the Kurdish militia, battled to retake Sinjar from ISIS, with a little help from Canadian and American forces. There’s a war going on, but you’d never know it if you didn’t watch the televsion news.
At the airport the only reminder of the conflict (aside from about five checkpoints before you get here) is at the cafe. There, beside the tip jar that is the norm for many such establishments, is a second tip jar, larger than the one for the employees. The large one is for people who want to make a donation to the Peshmerga.
I wonder who contributes and how much is raised. I can see U.S. Dollars mixed in with Iraqi Dinars. There may be other currencies too, I didn’t look closely, didn’t want to seem too interested.
It seems strange to me to fund a military with private donations. That’s not the way we do it in Canada – it is the government’s job to ensure the military has the equipment and personnel it needs.
Then I remember that wasn’t always the case. Private citizens used to raise regiments. People bought war bonds and otherwise contributed to the war effort. It wasn’t just the government.
So I guess a tip box at an airport cafe isn’t that strange after all. Fighting a war costs money, and every dollar or dinar helps.