Monday, 30 August 2010

No.377 Of Tintin and Travel

Wow! Our first full day in Syria and what a belter it turned out to be. We started by getting on the wrong bus to Bosra. Bosra is a Unesco world heritage site going back to 2AD not to be confused with Basra in Iraqi which doesn't really do tourists at the moment.
We hurtled out of Damascus at breakneck speed sharing our rickety old mini bus with 4 sacks of chickpeas, 3 hens and an awful lot of locals. One of them, called Joseph, looked straight out of a Tintin novel (Land of Black Gold if my memory serves me right) mighty shady looking but friendly and even a tad over helpful. He took great pains to explain that the driver needed all names of passengers "in case of crash and he tell you Fader". This is more information than we needed as the bus flies in and out of cars sometimes with heavy swerves as bigger buses sound their horns and right of way at even greater speeds. After an hour's travel all passengers are leaning forward onto the seat rest in front sleeping or possibly praying. Nephew David finds this journey novel, amusing, entertaining and a great story for the family at home. Uncle Barry finds it uncomfortable, claustrophobic, irritating and unnecessarily dangerous.

We arrive and I haggle with Mohammed a shop dweller for a full five minutes over the price of a Arabian head scarf. I knock him down a full 50 pence and we shake hands before going for a coffee where he tells me that he has one wife but is looking for another. The first he assures me cost him 25,500 Syrian pounds (about $800). "How much they cost in England?" he asked. I explained you don't really pay for a wife in England. "Ah then next one I get from England for free" he blagged with eyes turning huge and excited.

Tomorrow we head for Jordan and Petra. Our Hotel is wonderful but one of us at least will be glad to leave. Perched as it is between a mosque and a church David claimed to have slept little between bells sounding at 6.30a.m. this morning, the call to prayer at 7a.m. and someone's snoring. An eclectic treat for the lug holes if ever there was one if you ask me.....

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