In regards to my friend Ahjmed from Iraq, I had no trouble picturing what I read about in the New York Times. I assumed that suicide bombs were probably going off everywhere which would make commerce pretty difficult. My mental picture of Iraq was that it was a country still in chaos with a lack of infrastructure and because of this also a lack of commodities for sale. After talking with Ahjmed and asking him questions about his life in Iraq, I was pleasantly surprised that many of my assumptions were false. According to Ahjmed, where his family lives in Erbil (a north suburb of Baghdad,) the atmosphere is very friendly and very safe compared to Baghdad. There are many new retail stores and foreign investment is helping this developing and recovering country greatly. He also talked about how the middle class in Iraq is expanding and because of this his family was able to send him to the United States (with help from extended family and scholarships,) so he could get a good education and return someday to help the people of Iraq. Of course, Iraq is still an unstable country but is certainly heading in the right direction.
When I think of Mexico, stereotypical pictures of drug lords and loud, crowed street markets come to mind. Images of little trinkets being sold on cheap wooden stands such as maracas, key chains, or other things