here, there, everywhere

Delicacies From the Pasture

In Middle East, Syria on September 29, 2002 at 6:36 pm

Hello again.

Yes, I’m still in Syria but found another internet cafe and decided it was worth the update.

This evening’s dinner… sheep testicles.  They taste a little like scrambled eggs but I must say it’s never been so hard to eat eggs.  The first bite was ok, the second was difficult, the third was an exercise in swallowing while gagging.  But hey, I tried sheep intestines last week and they weren’t so bad…

Today we arrived in Damascus after spending two days in the desert.  Our accommodations for that part of the journey were sleeping two nights in different dead cities.  The equivalent of ghost towns, just two thousand years older.  Last night I was enjoying the breeze from the desert at night as the daytime temperatures were up to 40+ degrees.  Then I woke up this morning covered in a few inches of sand and thought that maybe a breeze is not so great.  Sometimes when I see other tour buses going by I think “you all look so clean”.  And then I remember that the way we’re doing it is cheaper and infinitely more exciting.

The first day we were in the desert, Adam decided to let each of us try driving the truck.  Mainly because desert scenery is not so great after the first half hour, and also because there was little chance of crashing into another vehicle.  When it was my turn, I promptly and accidentally drove onto a military outpost.  We originally thought it was a desert house, but the soldier with the AK-47 gave away what it actually was.  He was nice though, nodded to our greeting and gave a hearty wave.  99% of me was going ALRIGHT!!!!! the other 1% said hmmmmm.  Today we got back onto the highway and although the signs said Iraq was only a hundred km away,we decided it was not such a great idea.

We’ll be here in Damascus for the next two days.  It is a different city from Aleppo in that it is the capital and a little more cosmopolitan.  The people are still amazingly friendly though and it will be good to come back here two more times.

I discovered in Aleppo that I could never starve in this country.  Everywhere I went, the men were literally shoving food in my face.  They’d laugh and not let me go til I’d eaten the fries/pizza/pistachios and then cheer when I finally ate it.  The women are much more reserved and you must greet them with an Arab greeting before you get any emotion out of them.  Last night in Palmyra at the dead city, the guardians of the tombs where we were staying came over to the camp for about an hour to talk.  The women were very nice and one of them spoke English very well so I was finally able to have a female conversation rather than the one that typically goes “Yes, please, hello.  Where you from?  Welcome.  You like Syria?”

I’ve had two marriage proposals so far, one from the man at the chicken slaughter stall who proposed while his friend was slitting the throats of the chickens.  Not quite how I envisioned it happening, but I guess you can’t have it all.  And yes, I was wearing a head covering at the time.  Just a scarf and I must say that I enjoy it.  There’s a degree of anonymity that cannot be had from going bare-headed.

Good news on the Iranian visa front – it’s finally been issued – to Holland.  Tomorrow will be a test of patience as I try and negotiate with the embassy here to get a faxed confirmation from there.  Not how I want to spend my day but like I said before, I am going to Iran.

Sorry the message is so long but I want everyone to know how great it is here.  Every day is perfect and each day is better than the last.  I thought my tan was getting darker but then I took a shower and realized I’m just really dirty.

So that’s it for now.  Thanks to everyone for their e-mails, it’s great to hear from home.

That is all.

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