Exploring Iraq: Shaklawa

We were all participating in a professional development workshop on my mom’s birthday last Monday, so we decided to celebrate it with a family trip, followed by a homemade mint-chocolate-chip ice cream cake today.

Shaklawa is a small, rural city about an hour away from Erbil. It has one main street, made of stone. The “bazaar” or “souk” (two words indicating a large, open shopping area) lines the main street. The residencies, churches and other buildings are on small roads that twist their way through the surrounding slopes leading into Mount Rabamboya. The area’s monastery sits on top of this mountain.

Shaklawa is a fairly affluent, close-knit area. A small group of families have owned most of the land there for centuries, and have decided to keep their property within their tribes to preserve the rural area, rather than bringing in investors like the nearby Erbil metropolis. It is a reprieve from the main city’s hustle and bustle, and from the heat. There is much more greenery in the area – we actually saw some trees with fall turning colors, a rare occurrence in this region…

We ate a traditional lunch of vegetables with “shish tawouk” – grilled pieces of seasoned chicken breasts on a stick, and then walked through the main area of town, looking at the different shops. There were modern clothing, jewelry and shoe stores, but there were also many small, shops selling fresh goods from the area – pomegranate syrups, fresh honey, nuts, dried seeds and fruits, jellied fruit candies and hand-woven baskets. We picked up a few treats to add to my mom’s birthday party, which otherwise just consisted of the ice cream cake I’d made.

Unfortunately, by the time we began climbing the mountain, after eating lunch and walking through the town, Charbel was exhausted, so we didn’t get to make it all the way up to the monastery.  We had a great time, though, and, as always, one of the best parts was watching the kids enjoy it so much!

In addition to having a nice day in honor of my mom’s birthday, I was also happy because we found fresh pumpkins in Shaklawa – something I’ve been looking for since last fall but hadn’t found yet! Soon we’ll be waking up to the smell of pumpkin bread!!

Leave a Reply