Nathan Macintosh

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Hiking in Iraq.

As I'm sure some people have heard, two men who were hiking in Iraq and accidentally crossed into Iran were arrested and released this week. They spent two years in an Iranian jail because Iranian border guards had thought they were spies. Now, spending two years in an Iranian jail would be awful I could assume, and it's over the top that someone thinks  you're a spy so you do time, BUT, this doesn't mean that some questions should not be asked.

First, and very important one being, who goes hiking in Iraq? That sentence could also be, "WHO goes hiking in Iraq?" or "Who goes HIKING in IRAQ?" That seems like the place you'd go after you've hiked EVERYWHERE else in the world.
"We've hiked everywhere! We even hiked the bottom of the ocean. What's next?"
"I'll tell you what's next man. Baghdad. Take off your scuba gear. Not needed in the desert."

Who even thinks of traveling to Iraq? Ever see any commercials with people running through a desert, smiling, with soft music playing, then the Voice Over,
"Come to Iraq. You know you want to."
When was the last time you heard someone speak of their great trip to Iraq?
"We just spent two weeks in Tikrit. You must go!  "
I've never heard it.

If for some reason though you decide that you must travel to Iraq, bring a map. If you're not from the Middle East, know where you are going. You'd want to know where you were if you were hiking through the woods! Why? The woods have bears you don't want to run into. The Iraq/Iran border has bears as well, except these bears have guns and are apart of a militia.

"Ooops. Sorry. Is this Iran? We had no idea. No, no, no need for guns sir. By the way Iranian border guards, where are the happy running people we saw in the commercials? Oh, we put on these cuffs and get in that armored truck and you'll drive us to them? Well thanks so much! Slap em on!"

You go hiking in Iraq without a map? And not only is it bad enough you're hiking Iraq, you are hiking the border of Iran? How dangerous do you need to be to live?

"Hey, you want to go white water rafting?"
"Sure! But let's put holes in the boats.  Just white watering rafting is for pussies. I want my life on the line!"

It's funny as well that the Iranian government thought that's what American espionage would be taught to say if they were caught. No suicide pills or fights to the death, just "we're hiking."

"If anyone asks, tell them you're hiking. Of course they'll believe you! People hike in Iraq all the time. It's a huge hiking destination. You'll be bumping into hikers left, right and center. More hikers in Iraq than paper in a confectionary store.  Haven't you heard the song "Break your back to hike in Iraq?" It's a hiking diddy!"

No wonder they got locked up. Nobody anywhere would believe the hiking defense. Even if you stumbled into the back of a post office.
"What are you doing here?"
"Hiking. Can't you see my big stick and bag of granola bars?"
"You're trying to steal mail! That's an offense!"
"No, no. Look at my socks! Grey with red trim. Are these the socks of a thief? I think not, sir. These are hiking socks."

 So why would an Iranian border guard be fine with this?
"What are you doing here? Are you spies?"
"Noo, nooo, of course not. We are hiking. Can't you see my big stick and bag of granola bars? Wait,... are you a mirage? I'm out of water."

You should get some jail time for even thinking about hiking in Iraq. Iraq? People in Iraq don't hike Iraq. Of all the things you could do with some time off.
"Disneyland? Vegas? Atlantic City?"
"Boring, dude. Let's hike where we may hit some land mines."
HIKE IRAQ. Which translates to WALK IRAQ. You want to WALK IRAQ? That's the vacation? The outskirts of Iraq!

Where they were going must have come up in conversation when buying their gear.
"Hiking boots huh? Nice. Where are you guys hiking?"
"Oh, the lovely hiking destination that is border of Iraq and Iran."
"Iraq and Iran?! Really? Oh, how lovely!  Well, once you're done picking out your knapsacks, let me take you down the street to the gun store. Pick up a piece to match your hiking boots."

Their parents didn't say anything? Didn't put up any kind of fight? The night they were packing no one said,
"Hmm, maybe Yosemite would be a good place to hike? There's probably more to see."
"God, mom, we get it. Be careful in Iraq, geez. Lay off a little, huh? We know the safe word. American. We are American. A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N. Red, white and blue sir militia man, which means we can hike where ever we want. Now, where is the McDonalds? We got it. You worry too much, mother. I played tier 2 hockey remember? Piece of American swiss this will be."

If you told someone you were hiking in Detroit, they'd say,
"Detroit? What are you, an idiot?"
These guys say Iraq and everyone around them says, "Have a good time! Bring sunscreen, it's really hot there!"

Alright, I have to go, guys. I'm going to book my parasailing trip to North Korea. I hear the sights are to die for. Or at least be arrested for.
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