Abu Khalakhil – 11 October
Longest paddle yet … haven’t checked the GPS device yet but we did over 20 km today, some of it into a strong headwind. The heat is back too. We’ve reached the marshes. Hawizeh (or what is left of it after the Iranian built their embankment on the border) is on our left (west) and the Central Marshes (also partially dry) are on our right (east). Palm orchards have given way to the land of the buffalo breeders and we are seeing more buffalo on the river now. Plenty of barking dogs as well.
People are generally nice but a bunch of kids (boys of course) on a high bridge we passed before reaching the Prophet Ezra’s shrine decided to mess with us and attempted to throw debris down on our head. We passed unscathed but more than a few expletives passed our lips. The lunch point was at the Shrine and we didn’t reach it until 3 pm.
We heard that there were some floating bridges down below … the first one about 5 kilometers away. Our logistics staff took pictures and it looked like we could portage around them, so we paddled down after lunch to the first bridge (at Abu Khalakhil) … it was the perfect place for me to sample but apparently our staff were against our camping there (it would have been in the rough by the side of the river and our Iraqi staff don’t get that that is fine by the westerners on the crew). So we gave up on a starry night to return by car to the shrine to spend the night (a nearby checkpoint in Abu Khalakhil will watch our boat.
I think I’m the last one up but I had to do my data entry, make a few calls and calibrate the multimeter. Chloride standard solutions arrived today finally but I don’t think they are exact so with some advice from Diana Muller (South River Federation), I’ll jerry rig a work around.
Some pictures (in no particular order):
R begins training of fresh blood (S)
Prophet Ezra's shrine at night