Before; images of Syria

“When we cross the border can you guarantee my safety?” The American said.

I rolled my eyes. “What do you mean?”

“When we get to Syria. Am I going to be safe?”

“Why wouldn’t you be safe?”

“I’m an American. Don’t they want to kill me?”

“The only thing they’ll fucking kill you with is kindness.” I said.

I fanned myself with my passport. We were stuck in a queue on Jordan’s Ramtha border. Tendrils of sweat raced their way down my back.

At the time I just wished he’d shut up and sit down while I did my job and got the group’s passports exit-stamped. Now I just wish the clocks could be turned back. That I could have those same annoying border conversations again and show people the Syria I know.

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A week on from that conversation, that same American had performed a hip hop dance for a bunch of very amused (and bemused) kids in the back streets of Damascus, been stunned by Palmyra’s columned ruins marching across the eastern desert, walked on top of the ramparts at Krak des Chevaliers, and been convinced by me to have a traditional barber shop shave in an Aleppo old city alleyway.

He came back to the hotel, slick with oil and reeking of the barber shop’s cheap cologne.

“He didn’t kill me!” He said. “And I told him I was American and everything. All he wanted to do was make me drink too much tea.”

8 thoughts on “Before; images of Syria

  1. Sounds like it was a great education for your client. Some of my family are constantly in fear of my travels. Sigh.

    • Aren’t they all. That’s ok, a friend of mine, who’s on an extended year-long trip around the world, recently visited me here and just before she came she phoned her parents to tell them I live in “a rock” (I live in a restored cave house but hey, rock sounds better).
      Unfortunately her parents, on the skype connection heard ‘Iraq’. Hehehe. I’m told that was quite the conversation…

      • HAH! Thanks for the laugh!!

        I’m looking at spending October in Albania. I think my conversations will mostly revolve around “where’s that?”

  2. Wonderful what a little enlightenment can do for people – through experiencing things for themselves rather than believing everything they read in a newspaper.

    I studied Arabic with a teacher from Syria and I’ve been longing to visit there.

    Your photos are great!

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