here, there, everywhere

Alison is in Syria

In Middle East, Syria, Turkey on September 26, 2002 at 1:12 am

Hello all.

Here it is at last.  After being away for a month I have finally arrived in Syria.  I spent two weeks in Holland and then two weeks in Turkey.  Turkey is mostly European and not part of the trip that I wanted to take, so here are the highlights in brief:

Istanbul – cool, most exciting thing was standing in the Aya Sofia where emperors were crowned hundreds of years ago.

Moved on down to Ephesus which was also amazing.  The best part was our ‘holiday’ in Oludeniz which is on the Mediterranean.  I have never seen water that blue!!  We hung out there for two 1/2 days during which we rented mopeds, went swimming every day for two or three hours, tanned, and I went paragliding from 1800m.  The freakiest part was the take off when our chute got tangled and we were almost blown off the mountain.  Nevertheless, my pilot who looked like a short version of Ponch from ‘CHiPS’ got us down safely after 1/2 hour in the sky watching the sunset.  The next day we went to Saklikent where we did some canyoning in the most amazing gorge I’ve ever seen.  Then as we were heading to Ucegiz, which is at the bottom of a very long hill, the truck brakes started losing air at the top of the hill.  We managed to glide peacefully and safely to a parking lot at the bottom where everything promptly seized up so we were stuck for the evening.  Adam, our driver, negotiated a night on one of the boats for all of us so we went to sleep in a secluded bay and the next morning woke up to the moon setting and the sun rising.  Needless to say that has got to be the best way to wake up.  Since then we’ve been driving like crazy to get to the Syrian border so everything after Ucegiz has been pretty quiet.

To give you an idea of how I’m traveling, I’m with 8 others on a British Ford Cargo truck which is pretty much going to be home for the next 2 months.  We camp in campgrounds or on the side of the highway depending on where we are at the moment.  Adam is the driver, Anne does everything else.  The travelers are from Holland, US, Northern Ireland, Germany, England, and me from Canada.  Yes, Anne and Adam are real people and although I never doubted it, it was a relief to finally meet them.  Anyways, Adam is well known throughout the Middle East and India as he’s been working around here for the last 6 years.  He’s also well liked so we get to see tons of stuff with the locals that no one else would ever see.

Anyways, yesterday we arrived at the Turkish/Syria border crossing around 4pm and finished the whole crossing around 5:45pm.  As soon as I saw the ‘Wellcome to Syria’ sign, I haven’t stopped smiling since.  I’ve waited my whole life to come to the Middle East and here it is finally, right here in front of me.  We had the best falafel and Syrian pizza for dinner last night and then cruised around the city of Aleppo where we’ll be staying for the next two days.  The people are amazingly friendly, food is cheap, and just being here is mind-blowing.  Fortunately everyone on the trip shares the same traveling philosophy so we’re all game to do anything that looks different.  We’ll be in Syria now until October 1 at which point we’ll be heading into Jordan.

We’ve also changed the itinerary somewhat so we’re skipping Egypt in order to spend more time in Iran, for which I have not yet gotten my visa.  Frustration is setting in but I shall be patient because I AM going.

Not much to report on the war and military presence.  Only seen one tank so far so I’m disappointed.  Nevertheless, it all feels very safe so none of you should be worrying.  This place ROCKS!!!

I’ll write again when we find another internet cafe that works.  Very rare…

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