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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie

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 Travel Diary : Welcome to Syria

Welcome to Syria 

Welcome... this word, people told me many many many times here in Syria.The hospitality, this is a value that the Syrian population know perfectly without any doubt.

I was thinking that I had seen everything in Turkey when I was waiting only 10 minutes for a vehicule and when I was getting cai (tea) once in the day from the drivers.

And well, I haven't seen Syria! Here this is every vehicules which offered drink, food and everything the driver could give to me!

Still better: most difficult in this crossing of Syria was to not accept the offers from Syrians peple who wanted to pay me the public transport.

My goal is not to pay for the way of transport ok but also because I like to hitch-hike which enables me to meet the local population. That s why I refused this kind of offer.

Hitch-hiking in Syria is easy but it is necessary to pay attention to choose which vehicule we try to stop... Indeed, the buses and Services (kinds of minibus) are stopping everywhere because there is no bus station in Syria, therefore I have to keep concentrate to stop only private vehicule. 

Picture of a bus in Latakia

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So no problem to cross a part of the desert, which covers all the East part of the country. The desert, it is the first time that I am discovering it by myself and that I have the occasion to be able to observe it and to feel it. It is a feeling of infinite and freedom which is to look at the no-end of the sand.

 

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And sometimes in Syria, when you are in the middle of nowhere in the desert, you can find the tents of the bedoins. Those one are done with sheepskins because the principal occupation of the bedoins is to keep the herds and to take care that the sheeps can drink as much as they can (in the desert, this become a difficult game).

 

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And if you have a little chance, you can even being taken by hitch-hiking by these same bedoins. Those are easily recognizable because they carry the red and white keffier (this famous scarf that they are rolled up around the head) and a kind of long dress often of blue color. I have been impressed by the pace that those have

Indeed, the bedoins generally have a face very mark and bright eyes. I think that we need a picture right now, no?

Here is a bedoin who was my driver between Palmyra and Damascus

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Ok, and if you are even luckier, you meet formidable drivers which make you go to meet the bedoins who are taking care of thir herd. In same logic, I finish on the back of the donkey of the bedoin trying to make some donkey-hiking...Not easy by the way!

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Syria, it is not only the desert however. The western border of the country is the Mediterranean coast (and yes, it is a common point with France!). From this west coast, the landscapes have sharp colors and when we move towards the east, this one transforms itself into steppe and then in desert.

I went to the castle of Saladin, at 30 kilometers of the harbour city of Latakia. From this castle, we can observe a splendid panorama but also note the diversity of the Syrian landscapes.

 

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The castle of Saladin, a strong beautiful masonry... and if you like to visit the ruins and old constructions, you will adore Syria. Indeed, this country is the place in the world where the oldest evidence of habitants have been found.

The towns of Alep and Damascus are two of the oldest city with evidence of habitants

Dating of more than 5000 years! The call of the stone led me in those cities.

Here is below the citadel of Alep, this is the principal entrance (because this is the one) and for me the best sight of the citadel.

 

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Arrived in Damas, the touristic place (and you have to pay if you are not muslim) is The Great Mosque of Omeyyades. For my part, I did not have any proof to show them I was not muslim so as the majority of the local people, I didn t pay.

This mosque got a court (sahn) which is splendid. The marble on the ground is brilliant thanks to the fact that each one wax it with its socks... because we take of our shoes before entering a mosque. 

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This day was Friday, day of prayer in the Islamic religion (like Sunday for the

catholics). This explains the fact that the mosque was really full of people this day. 

I told you about the desert and Palmyra before. Palmyra is a city in the middle of the desert, or rather an oasis. We can find there an immense palm plantation and a multitude of ruins. That was an important passage for the caravans already more than 2000 years ago. Wandering in the ruins, it is a bit like doing a journey in the time. I had fun to imagine what could be the different functions of the various ruins... That takes time...especially that the field of ruins was really really large.

Here is the entrance...by the way we can enter everywhere but this is the function I gave to it! 

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After having try to give a name to each ruins, the night starts to come...and frankly, I

quickly went to climb a little hill to watch the spectacle.

To sunset in the desert... The colours starts from the red to the orange and passing by the pink...

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Everything is not going well

 

No, everything is not going well in Syria and this is too bad. Indeed, Syria is under dictatorship with a president elected at 99 percent. Why so much? Because the Syrian people have the right to vote... but not against his government!

The current president Bacher El Assad followed his father in 2000 even it was impossible in theory in a Republic.

Then so you can see everywhere in the country some pictures, statues, everything on the effigy of the defunt and the current president (father and son).

Here is one on the frontage of a building in Aleppo

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The newspapers are censured and the principal news are talking about the last moves of the president.

I cannot give any judgement if the action of the gouvernement is good or not because

I don't live in this country. However, I could share the opinions of some Syrians (even if it is forbidden to talk about politic) and of course each one would like to have a little bit more freedom.

Then of course, when we say dictatorship, we say culture of the fear. . I could make the experiment of it once.

 

Indeed, I was hitch-hiking in the beautiful middle of the desert trying to stop a car. After few minutes, I succeed to stop one. A few meters further, somebody sees the scene and stop the car of my driver. Those one talk together and after few minutes, my driver ask me to get ou the car...Yes, this is also forbidden to talk to the foreigners in Syria and of course not to help them. I think my driver get a recommendation from the person who stopped us. 

However, it is not a government which will make me change my opinion about the very nice people of Syria. The Syrian are of an extraordinary kindness and I just can encourage you to go there if you pass by.

About myself, I let her because my driver wait for me to go to Jordan.

 

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See you soon

Jeremy



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