this is not a dangerous city (except maybe if jaywalking). people here are too busy surviving, learning skills that are normally imported in other places, because of global boycotts and devalued currency. young boys with axle grease smeared across their cheeks sit watching their fathers reassemble engines or cobble shoes on the sidewalk or bake pita in ancient stone ovens. when i asked why the syrians don't ask the government to create recycling programs to clean up the streets or build on a potentially great tourism industry the answer i always received was, 'we are too busy to worry about anything more than making enough in a day to feed our families.'
aleppo is syria's second biggest city and maybe even older than damascus. the streets there are narrow cobblestone paths through time. there is a great old fort in the middle of the city, dry dusty souks and great cafes. i think i ate something that didn't agree with me though and was sick for at least 5 days after. i don't blame you though aleppo... i will always love you...
latakkia is something else. situated on the thin strip of beach along syria's mediterranean coastline, latakkia is aleppo's bohemian cousin. beautiful beaches, crazy drivers, great food and gorgeous sunsets.
there is too much to say about syria. i think everyone should go there and get over their fears of all this american-propagated anti-terror axis of evil horse shit. rove is gone, cheney is skeletor and bush can't be trusted to butter your toast properly. don't believe them... believe me. syrians are nice, syria is great and children don't throw bombs at you.
things of note:
- number one ultimate disco cab ride in aleppo. all the cabbies decorate their cars and this guy could drive, narrowly missing children on bikes, donkeys, orthodox nuns crossing the street while blasting the hottest lebanese dance tracks.
- flying cockroach hunting in latakkia.
- crazy bus driver who smoked, talked on his phone, played with the vcr and chucked vhs cassettes out the window while driving max speed and never inside the lines.
- hairy syrian men scrubbing me down in a thousand year-old bath house in old damascus.
- a burgeoning nightlife in damascus. clubs are catching on.
- three young soldiers having fun, wrestling with an AK-47 in the middle of the sidewalk while we walked by. i thought i was going to get shot!
- sheesha everywhere at anytime for any occasion.
- scrubbing diab's house in aleppo.
- endless cliff face and night lights along the latakkian coast.
- the last rays of a setting sun glinting on the silver crescents of mosque spires over a shadowy damascus.