Posted by David Chibo from serv193-84.elan.net (22.214.171.124) on Tuesday, March 26, 2002 at 11:57AM :
Last night was like a dream after two days spent travelling and waiting for connecting flights our journy from Melbourne had taken us to Singapore and then Dubai, before landing in Damascus.
After an exhaustive wait at customs we phoned one of our contacts Emanueil Khoshaba, the head if the ADM (Zowaa) in Syria.
Emanueil must be one of the coolest guys you could meet. What do you expect with an emroidered image of the God Ashur hanging on his wall?
He gave us a tour of Damascus and showed some highlights.
Coming from Australia where 5kms over the speed limit incurrs a hefty fine, we were shocked to see pedstrians, cars, bicycles weaving through traffic and honking at every opportunity.
Driving with him was like a Hollywood car chase movie, as he zippd through traffic stony faced and cut off trucks and buses before skidding to a halt at the next set of lights.
"I once made it from Damscus to Kamishli in 4 hours!" he boasted. "A trip that usually takes people 8 hours."
Our astonishment turned to wonder at the traffic after acouple of hours on the road. In all the disorder there was actually a very strange order. Not once in all the time we have been on the road, have we see an accident.
Spent the day walking through Damascus today accompanied by the Doc.
I was initially aprehensive at the site of the Doc pulling out his telescopic lensed camera and snapping some pics, especially when we were within range of Syrian army guards stationed at most of their ministries.
But the aprehension quickly wore off and we began from Bab Touma (Thomas gate) and toured the entire ancient Roman Wall that surrounds the ancient city of Damascus.
Looking lik typical tourists lugging cameras and bags we decided to blend in with the locals, and as the Doc explained in Syriac, "When in Damascus....do as the Damscians (is that a word?) do!"
We purchased and wore a Kafireh each and proceeded to hold each other's hands as we walked. "Men aren't considered 'gay' in this country it's considered a sign of friendship!" the Doc insisted.
I reluctantly agreed to his request.
"Provided I lead should we ever have to dance!"
More next time we visit an Internet cafe.............
-- David Chibo
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