When you think about motorcycle travel, what comes to mind? Is it doing a day trip with your rider buddies, or maybe a cross-country trip? Does it involve one country, or multiple countries? Do you prefer routes that are more or less traveled for your personal explorations?
Rider and travel vlogger Alex runs a YouTube channel and general web presence called Lost With Purpose. She rides a Suzuki DR650, which started out as a plain white bike, but later morphed into a brilliant rolling mural painted by a pair of master truck artists in Pakistan during her travels.
See, Alex enjoys doing unexpected things and traveling to unexpected places. Motorbikes are a popular means of transportation in Pakistan, with over 15 million bikes registered in the country as of 2022—but riders outside the country rarely hear about it. It’s clear that Alex loves to travel, but her main goal is to get to know and experience people and their cultures for herself—all on her trusty DR650.
Now that it’s 2023, she’s begun riding solo through Iraq. She crossed the border from Kuwait a couple of episodes prior to enter the country. In this video, she’s just spent a night in Basra, in a hotel room that was hard to come by due to a major international football (that’s soccer for Yanks) tournament that was in town.
Where she’ll go next as she crosses the country isn’t completely set in stone and seems to largely hinge on what accommodations she’s able to find for the evening. Eventually, she decides that she’d like to see the famous Mesopotamian marshes for herself, as well as visit the cradle of civilization at the intersection of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. She also visits the spot where the Garden of Eden was said to be, although it surely looks quite different in 2023.
After that, she gets on a boat out into the marshes, leaving her DR650 parked safely on shore. As she explains, more people used to live in this area, but Saddam Hussein and his regime drained the marshes as retaliation when the residents did not agree with his rule. While the marshes were eventually somewhat restored with water after he was no longer in power, things never returned to how they'd been before. In 2023, local people mainly bring their animals to the marshes for water, which you'll see in this video.
The ongoing impacts of politics, war, and climate change have led to an uncertain future for the area. According to Alex, some local people are hoping that eco-tourism can bring needed change and funds to preserve the marshes and the ways of life in the area—but as ever, it’s difficult to know what the future may bring.
While some people are surprised and even fascinated to meet a solo female motorcyclist traveling in the region, most people are extremely friendly. Alex has mentioned in past videos that plenty of people told her that everyone would want her to stop for tea, coffee, and/or food on her travels through Iraq—and so far, a great many people have done exactly that. Videos like this are important reminders that there are awesome people everywhere; you just have to meet them, and what better way to do it than on your bike?