Hama, Palmyra, and Damascus
Sep 04, 2008
Hama was great
. Met a couple locals (one 18, the other 52) who happily walked me around town and bought me tea. The next night I met the gentleman for dinner. He apologized profusely when he couldn't pay for mine.
Too many ancient ruins to count in Syria. But Palmyra was well worth the time. It is enormous; one could spend four plus hours easily walking around the site. An old man on a motorcycle stops to say, "No Bush, Yes Obama," and the French bystanders chuckle in agreement.
Damascus is definitely cleaner than Aleppo, but those things are all relative. Apparently, when Jesus booted the moneys changers out of the Temple, the majority landed in Damascus. Went to the Umayyad Mosque, which apparently is the third holiest one behind Mecca and Medina. I can't help but notice that the extreme religious devotion of the Arabs, specifically when everything closes down for the noon prayer, is probably costing their economy millions of dollars. But I'm sure Allah appreciates it.
My pulse begins to race immediately. As my eyes dart from one side of the street to the other, beads of sweat form on my brow, not from the heat, but from a palpable and increasing fear. Do these men notice how nervous I am? My syncopated one word questioning is met with a quizzical stare, then a vague direction. Have I gotten myself in over my head? I like to think that I'm rarely uncomfortable, ice in the veins, nerves of steel, etc. However, this time, my resolve is close to breathing its last. An hour passes, then two. My guidebook is of little help, and I consider throwing it in the nearest dumpster, right before collapsing into an inconsolable ball on the sidewalk. Through the glimmer of the my first few tears, a small shimmer of light on the next street catches my eye. Was it the US Embassy, ready to help an American in need? Nope, even better. I had finally found the one and only liquor store in Damascus. I was saved.