Monday 5 January – Palmyra

In my experience Jordanian and Syrian people are generous, warm hearted and make a lone traveller feel very welcome. To counter perceptions encouraged by certain world leaders and ex-Prime Ministers, I would like to relate a few of my recent experiences:
After I asked how to find the Umayyad Mosque, a shop keeper in the Old City of Damascus with limited English asked up and down the street in what must have been every shop until he found someone who could help me.
When buying a bus ticket, a small Syrian coin of low denomination flipped out of my wallet and when I was organising my bags, a Syrian lady went right out of her way to find my coin and then presented it to me ‘Madame?’
On my bus trip today I was sitting right up the front and the bus driver who had no English, seeing that I was obviously a visitor to his country, insisted on sharing some tea with me from his flask. They are only liittle things I suppose but they leave a nice taste in your mouth. 
I was also offered tea when I booked my room at the Sultan Hotel, while we are on the subject of being offered tea. The TV was on and I noticed that an old man behind me made a clicking noise of disapproval with his tongue. There always seem to be old men hanging around hotels in this part of the world, sitting drinking what I assume is a lethal version of Turkish coffee, gossiping with their contemporaries, and reading Arabic newspapers. Occasionally they do things like serve you breakfast or carry your bags to your room, but I suspect that their function is mainly to sit around and add atmosphere to the place.
I turned my head to the TV to see what he was clicking his tongue at, and it was Condoleeza Rice on the TV holding forth about something at a press conference. This IS Syria after all, a country which is not great friends with America! Fair enough too – Condeleeza probably deserves a few tongue clicking noises of disapproval!

~ by margoforte12 on January 6, 2009.

One Response to “Monday 5 January – Palmyra”

  1. Have just read a book by Christiane Bird about her time in Iran and she also commented on the unanticpated kindness and generosity of everyone she met. Same as you, hlepful strangers, kind bus drivers and friendly passengers. It is probably hard for us, in our Western ways, to not suspect nefarious intentions.

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