Way-back-when, in October, 2010, I went to Syria. I’d just started my journey (September, 2010), having visited only Bulgaria and Turkey. I very much wanted to see for myself what this prominent member of the Axis of Evil had to offer.
Syria was my favorite country – maybe because it was the biggest surprise: beautiful, with hospitable and kind people, easy to get around. Since it was still early in my journey, maybe the biggest surprise of all was that life there paralleled life here: people lived in apartments or houses, they went to work, and came home to their families at the end of the day. Many drove cars. The children went to school. People went shopping – and making it exotic, they also shopped at the Souq.
This is the Souq in Damascus, closed because it’s Saturday:
The next 3 photos were taken in the Souq in Aleppo, which is (was) ancient. On October 1, 2012 it became a location of destruction in their civil war, and it burned grotesquely. My research cannot determine if any of it is left.
Everyone I met wanted their children to do better than they did. Also, they LOVED having an American visit. “Go home and tell your friends we are not all terrorists” was the frequent request.
This morning, on the radio, I heard that a castle I had visited, a very special castle way high up on a mountain overlooking forever, had been bombed by airplanes. There were people called rebels inside the castle. Now the rebels and the castle are gone.
I’d stayed in the town beside Craq de Chevaliers for 3 nights because it was so beautiful there. I did yoga on my little balcony that overlooked both the castle and the forever valley below.
I was stunned when I found out that the receptionist, who slept there on a couch near the lobby, NEVER got a day off – at least not in six months. Of course I wondered why he didn’t get another job or start a union, so I asked. There were no other jobs and there certainly were no unions. This very polite man who spoke excellent English was also, he told me, a University graduate and an Accountant. There were no other jobs.
I wandered around the ‘hood and met some locals. These men drove me all the way down the 2,130’ “hill” to the Lebanon border and found me my next taxi. I think they threatened the Lebanese cab driver to make sure he’d treat me well (he did).
I’d spent a lot of time at the castle, pondering its location, naively believing it would always be impervious to invaders.
There is so much I do not know and do not understand.
*from Lonely Planet, on line: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/syria/crac-des-chevaliers#ixzz2Z3p21f6Z