(continued from last post)
It was then that I got a bit ambitious. I keep wanting to cross the next hill, the next hill, the next hill, which served to demostrate the aforementioned emptiness of the place, occasionally punctuated by disused tracks and huts, as well as single trees or small groups of them. Reaching the highest peak in the area, I was tempted to burst into Mighty Boosh-style crimp, but running low on water and having nobody to provide a smattering of polite/disturbed laughter I decided that was somewhat pointless.
‘lost in the blinding light of the deseeeeeeeeeeeeert’ doesn’t quite work as well…
Coming back towards the monastery from there, I noticed some movement across a ridge to my left, and my brain must have thought something along the lines of ‘oh, let’s see what that is, because obviously nothing could conceivably go wrong in that scenario’. Sure enough, I crossed the ridge and was faced with this massive, slavering, enraged wolf, and the perfectly cloudless sky behind it suddenly read تباً. Fortunately a bit of running like a lunatic before he could howl for his pure young team saw me alright.
It doesn’t look like much for that distance, but I’m telling you it was at least this big (imagine me holding my arms very far apart)
His friends turned out to be more like massive, slavering, enraged feral dogs than wolves per se. Maybe Syria is a bit like that. If you’re stupid, you get chased by wolves. This is my thought for the day.
Anyway, that’s that. Four months in the Levant… I’ve been back just about two months now, mainly happily. I do sometimes miss Syria’s simplicity and honesty, but then it had its disadvantages by the barrel as well.
Bad times? We can certainly say I’d love to forget being mugged in Bab Tuma, having my camera stolen and many of the events in the week before half-term. And we will say that.
But I’d say what I loved most about my time abroad was discovering things for myself. I’d heard at least a little about practically every area of the country for one reason or another before going, and I suppose the case in point is Deir az-Zur. Roundly criticised as a shithole by your typical expat, even in three short days there and despite its numerous warts, I really fell in love with the place, with its vaguely charming French-style riverside restaurants and really unique character.
Damascus? It was diverse. Sometimes bizarre. That’s the best way to describe it, because I could give the city its own blog (horrified gasp from any remaining readers there…). Certainly 81 Baab as-Salaam Lane is a house with many memories, mainly good, which will never leave me. And while I suppose I had the occasional valuable experience at the university, it was largely a necessary evil.
So. Good times? There were plenty, no doubt. Character building? Yes. Friends for life? I reckon. Piety? I kept it up. Alcoholism? Borderline. My Arabic? Pretty good.
Would I go back? !لازم
Thanks for reading: and, more importantly, congratulations if you made it this far. Next up? Archaeology this semester sees me going Schliemann on the collective proverbial asses of the Peloponnese, Attica and parts of central Greece. Given I have a course diary to keep, there’ll be lots to write about and I hope interesting pictures. Plus maybe tales of massive slange on the lash in Athens. More plus, there’s some wild talk of Alexandria this summer.
Those will be ones to watch. So come back in a bit, draw up your chair and leave a comment. !إلى اللقاء