New Year, New Journey?

Trip Start May 22, 2009
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Trip End Feb 16, 2010


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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Adventures in Syrian Transit Part II:

Knew which station to go to today which was a positive start!  Seems that ticket booths have ceased to exist.  Bus drivers just shout to you as you go by and eventually you find one that's going your way.  The bus that found us was full and just about ready to go.  But that didn't stop the driver from loading our bikes and pulling down a couple of seats up front with him.  A different perspective on the traffic from cycling that's for sure. 

Upon arrival into Damascus we had a clear view of the traffic.  Absolutely crazy!  And I thought I had seen crazy traffic in Athens and then Aleppo, but apparently not!  A huge traffic circle crammed with at least 7 make-shift lanes of buses, taxi's and other vehicles was crawling around and around while horn blasts filled the smog-thick air. Boy were we excited.

Unloading the bikes from the bus, I noticed that my rack was twisted and crushed.  This was far beyond our other make-shift duct-tape repairs of the past.  About 6 different welds were snapped and pieces were falling off.  Working as best as we could to get it together enough to hold my bags, we drew quite a crowd of onlookers.  Even a taxi driver scavenged around the park-ade for some little bits of wire which might be of some use to us, but weren't. 

Eventually things were rigged up enough that the bags were held, but they were so far forward that my feet hit them with every pedal rotation.  Won't make for very powerful cycling, but Inshalla, it will get us through the city to a place to stay.  But that was to be a bit of a challenge. 

Fighting the madness, we threw ourselves into opposing lanes of traffic.  This was much less insane than trying to cross the roads to get to the proper side.  But in Syria it doesn't matter at all.  Most vehicles swerve around, honk or flash their lights to let you know they're there.  On the smaller streets there is zero room and traffic doesn't seem to move from congestion.  Too narrow even for our bikes to weave around so we were stuck in stop and go traffic for what seemed like forever. 

Brian ducked down an alley to get off the street for a break.  But his alley seemed more like a freeway for the amount of vehicles that wanted to drive down there.  One started honking at him to get out of the way so they could pass.  Somehow, when trying to move Brian's tire caught on the derailer and bent it so that the wheel wouldn't turn.  Trying to get out of a tight spot with a bike that won't roll while someone keeps laying on the horn only mounted the frustration we were both feeling. 

To help relieve this pressure, a group of young boys showed great concern over Brian's bike.  After maybe a minute they ran away, returned with tools, descended on the bike, and had things working again. 

Even so, we were both feeling very lost in this city.  Not really knowing where the bus had dumped us, we tried to navigate towards where I knew there were some cheap hotels.  The help we had come to expect from people was much less in the large center, and Brian's testosterone power seemed to be low.  He asked a few people for help and none really seemed to know where he was talking about, and the few that did gave errant directions. 

The short hop to Damascus that was supposed to only take an hour or two ended up taking all day.   When we weren't fighting opposing traffic, all roads were one-way (in the opposite direction), or there were pedestrian bridges to get over the roads. 

What a day!  Broken bikes, crazy roads, mounting illness - we were right ready to toss the bikes in the next alley and abandon it all.  We haven't been using them again, and now they're broken and in need of further repair.  What to do what to do?  I need a sign!

Strangely enough, that night was New Year's Eve - a time of change.  There was a brilliant full moon hanging in the sky.  Even more remarkable was when Brian looked up to see that it was starting to eclipse.  In need of a sign, I thought of the ancient people who looked to the stars for answers and did a little research. 

"Eclipses are tied to changing circumstances.  Human beings are progressive by nature, and although we might stay in situations that are making us miserable for longer than we should, deep down inside we know that change is necessary for growth.  Lunar eclipses are relationship-oriented. The "crisis" that these eclipses tend to elicit is a crisis of lack--a time when we suddenly realize a great need or want. The impact of the crisis can even act to sever a relationship. But it can also bring two people together with a sudden awareness of a great need for each other. Although Lunar eclipses are more relationship-oriented than Solar eclipses, they are not always about relationships between two people. They can trigger awareness of need in other areas of our lives, such as our relationship to work, to our health and bodies, and so forth. This is a time when matters come to light--things that have been brewing under the surface."

So...what is the great need that will be realized, what has been making us miserable, what relationship shall be severed, what will 2010 bring?
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