Hello everyone from Jordan!
Yeah, so we had our first break this semester and some of the students in my class were talking about going to Syria. I was really hesitant to go on this trip because, being an American, it can (and did) take several hours at the border to get a visa. I decided to go since I would not be the only American holding up the group…and it did take four hours! We took a service taxi there for about $30 per person and we stayed at this amazing hotel call Al Rabie. The doorway to the hotel was located in a narrow, dirty alley, but the inside opened up into a gorgeous courtyard (see the pics below) with the rooms surrounding the courtyard. You would never know how fantastic this hotel is unless you actually walked into the place. This is how much of Damascus was. The hotel, the restaurants, and the shops…they are all very uninviting from outside and absolutely amazing on the inside. Each place is its own little “best kept secret”!
Like everywhere else, Damascus has its poverty, which can be seen widespread in the streets. The market place sells questionable fruits and veggies, but the atmosphere is exciting. The people are trying hard to make a living competing against a multitude of other venders selling (or trying to sell) similar products. I definitely felt like more of a foreigner in Syria than here in Amman, Jordan. The people in Syria, especially the children, seemed so interested in us. Because they were on holiday from school, as were we, many groups of young boys were out in the market area and in the streets having a good time. There were several boys who came up to us and asked if we spoke English, only to mock us when we replied. A few of the boys were anxious to have their opportunity to speak to us and practice their English. We were invited to be in photographs and offered handshakes and verbal pleasantries. In some cases, the merchants found us to be an opportunity to make a little bit of extra money for the day. Unfortunately for them, I’ve learned to negotiate…or at least I think I have 🙂
Our trip to Syria was a quick two-day turn-around, which I was glad about. I didn’t realize how beautiful Amman really is until I was on my way back “home”. I suppose that’s true with any trip.
I was concerned to hear about the two American journalists who went missing in Lebanon. Someone in my class knows them. Hearing about that hit a little too close to home for comfort, but I’m glad to hear that they have returned back home safely.