What It's Like to Be A Tourist in Baghdad

A journalist travels to Iraq to discover the cultural differences really do matter

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Before the U.S. troop pull-out deadline of January 2012, writer Paula Froelich, a former Page Six reporter for the New York Post, wanted to visit Baghdad. Even as war and violence continue, Iraq welcomes tourists to its country, enticing visitors with its slogan "Explore Civilization of Life." For fifteen days Froehlich toured the country. In a revealing piece for Playboy, Froehlich wrote about her travels in a country so culturally different than the one which occupies it with its army. As you'd imagine, both the cultural differences and the scary factor don't sit well with Westerners, as this telling anecdote demonstrates.

As Ahmad filled up the tank a few men approached the bus, staring at Justine’s bare arms dangling out the window. They started shouting and pointing. More men drew near.

“Oh, they want to take my pic-chah!” Justine cooed, posing. One of our guards with a machine gun and a face mask started beating the men back.

“Well,” someone huffed, “that’s not very nice, is it?”

“He seems awfully nervous,” someone else said. “And so sweaty—maybe he should take off that face mask.”

Our guard slammed our windows shut and yelled at another policeman, who rushed onto the bus, yelling at Mohammed, who turned to Geoff, who finally realized Justine was wearing a tank top and said, “Put on a shirt! Now!”

“Oh, ha-ha-ha!” she said, laughing and pulling a shawl over her arms. “I’m quite the Jezebel!”

Read all the gripping details of her trip here.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.