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Syria

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Miscellaneous notes wrapping up Jordan, Syria and Lebanon: In Palmyra we experienced our first guilt trip from a cab driver. On our second day he caught up to us on the street and whined that we had promised him we’d go to the tombs with him, which of course we hadn’t. I thought he was going to cry for a minute. People eat so late in the Middle East that it’s possible for us to go to a restaurant and sit anywhere because they will remove the Reserved signs and just replace them when we leave (I hadn’t actually noticed this until Barry pointed it out but it was true). A favourite practice in Syria, Aleppo in particular, was a slight markup of everything on your bill, easily explained if questioned I’m sure but not enough to cause a stir over (and no, tax was on top of that as…

Five women, three men, two taxis, a long weekend, a war-torn country attempting to reinvent itself. Does anyone else smell a new ABC sitcom…? That’s right, we were off to Lebanon with Barry, Sheena, and four of their friends from Damascus (Dustin, Lara, Hilary, Jen). We made  a beeline through Beirut to Byblos, a popular beach resort and the sight of some minor Roman ruins, although minor is a relative term, of course, as they would probably be considered fairly important Roman ruins in, say, Moose Jaw. Anyway, what a change from the rest of our trip to this point. We crossed into Lebanon through tree-lined mountains with spectacular snow-capped peaks in the distance before dropping suddenly down to the Mediterranean where the waves were lapping up against the rocky shoreline. The main thing – not desert. Our first stop was the Edde Sands resort, or as Barry insisted on…

Despite the best efforts of Syrian Immigration and a border crossing seemingly designed by group consensus at 4 am on Rennie’s couch we somehow managed to gain entry to Syria. Their tourism motto appears to be “We want your money but we’re still going to play hard to get.” A straight shot to Damascus after that, though, where we were promptly ripped off by our first Syrian cab driver (always love that first ride when you have no idea what a reasonable price is), although at least he was very friendly and helpful, probably thanks in part to his exciting financial windfall. He dropped us at the international school in Damascus where we were to meet up with Sheena and Barry Nabholz, friends of one of Laynni’s work friends (Kelly Froehlich). We also just happened to arrive as the Director of the school was leaving and he offered to walk…

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