Absolutely my favorite news story of the year thus far, bar none. What’s a young man with money in his pocket, adventure on his mind, and wanderlust in his heart to do these days? Backpacking across Europe is cliche; hiking through the Himalayas isn’t daring enough. A true explorer needs to think outside the box, off the “Lonely Planet” grid, as it were.
Hey, how about “one of Iraq’s least foreigner-friendly cities”? With no security, to boot?
“I am a tourist. I want to see the most important cities in the country. That is the reason why I am here now,” he said in heavily accented English. “I want to see and understand the reality because I have never been here before, and I think every country in the world must be seen.”…
After being made aware of Mr. Marchio’s presence in the country by The New York Times, the Italian Embassy in Baghdad established that Mr. Marchio had traveled from Italy to Egypt, then to Turkey, and from there to northern Iraq over land. A photocopy of his passport shows that he obtained a 10-day visa and crossed the border from Turkey to Kurdistan.
Then came a 200-mile journey by taxi from Erbil, the Kurdistan regional capital, to Baghdad, where a startled Bashar Yacoub, 31, reception manager at the Coral Palace — a hotel that had not had a casual Western visitor since the American invasion in 2003 — took his details…
The next morning he set out for Falluja despite the hotel staff’s efforts to dissuade him, insisting on taking a public bus to the city, 40 miles west of Baghdad.
Within hours, the hotel staff received a call from the Falluja police. “I wasn’t surprised when they called,” Mr. Yacoub said. The police told him that they had found Mr. Marchio in a minibus next to a woman who sold fresh milk, yogurt and cream door to door. “They were very worried about him,” Mr. Yacoub said.
There’s more, but I’m going to stop here because I want you to read it all — especially the U.S. Marine’s suggestion of where to drop him off. Exit quotation: “No Israeli stamp or any crossing point with Israel stamp should be on your passport this includes Araba border, Sheikh Hussein border, Rafah border, and Taba border.”