Ranya (Rania, Ranye) is a town in Kurdistan, northern Iraq; or Southern Kurdistan if so inclined. It’s in Sulaymaniyah Province, and two hours northeast of Sulaymaniyah (and two hours east of Erbil). The town’s pretty quiet as towns go, but I’m a city girl at heart. My boss, who is happiest up in the mountains, can’t stand the hustle and bustle and noise of Ranya (‘ha!’ I say). To me, the sounds of Ranya aren’t the sounds of a big city or even a busy town. There’s loud construction going on at odd hours of the day, and the calls for prayer five times a day from a mosque in every direction create quite the cacophony, but those aren’t the sounds of a city. That’s just noise.
Anyway, much of Ranya reminds me of Nairobi. Well, okay. Not the Nairobi I know and grew up in, seeing as I’ve been downtown probably a total of ten times. Ever. In 22 years. And much of the Nairobi I know is nicer than Ranya (remember, coming from a city girl’s p.o.v.). Actually, I suppose I should say ‘more developed’ rather than nicer. Regardless, a lot of the shops, storefronts, bazaar streets – their look, sounds, smell – remind me of one side of Nairobi. But since everyone’s been clamoring for photos, here are a few I’ve taken during the few times I’m not either at home, at school, or struggling up a mountain. And don’t worry, there are more (and better) pictures to come!