You Can Be a Tourist in Iraq, If You Want To

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Photo: Sabah Arar/AFP/Getty Images

Former "Page Sixer" and novelist Paula Froelich went to Iraq this summer on a mission from Playboy. Not to report on the war, or on the living conditions of Iraqis, or on the withdrawal of American forces. No, it was something far freakier — she went as a tourist on a package bus-tour. From her insane, must-read story:

The interpreter from the Ministry of Tourism who usually accompanied him was “called away unexpectedly” and replaced with Mohammed, an anxious, sweaty man with a Saddam mustache and pompadoured jet-black hair. ­Mohammed wore a uniform of pleated chinos and golf shirt and carried a briefcase at all times, like a 1965 insurance salesman ... The few times he was brought in to decipher what locals were saying, his interpretation varied from sort of correct to not even close. (Example: A man with scars all over his body talked to me for five minutes. ­Mohammed’s interpretation: “He says welcome!” Actual interpretation: “Look at my scars. I got these in an attack while I was working for the Americans. Can you help me get to America to get medical help? I’m in constant pain.”)


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Down and Out in Baghdad [Playboy]