Sunday, October 14, 2007

Things she won't remember

We just got back from a great trip down to Jordan, and it really made me realize just how dirty and isolated Syria really is. I hadn't been to Jordan for over ten years and it has really blossomed into the Switzerland of the Levant. Wide, clean streets, beautiful new and modern buildings, American and European shops and restaurants everywhere, one could really isolate oneself in an American environment there if one so desired. Good thing I don't.

We spent our first few days in Amman doing the shopping that one can't do in Damascus, there is a Carfour (the French Wallmart), and malls that have pretty much all the same shops one would find in Tysons Corner, VA. We somehow forgot our stroller on the taxi out of Damascus, but luckily there was an extra one at church in Amman where we went to watch conference. When we went to rent our car we realized that we had forgotten both our driving licesces in Damascus, so we had to do the rest of the trip by bus - which can be an adventure in and of itself with the loud music, tons of smoke, crazy conversations, people passing the baby up and down the bus, each foul mouth kissing her, unscheduled stops, etc.

This was my third time to Petra but every time it is as impressive as the first. A lot has changed in ten years, for example the canyon leading into the ruins (the Siq) is now paved, and you can't ride horses down it, in addition to paying $30 to enter instead of $2. This time we dodged the tourists on donkeys up the long trek to the Deir al-Mousa, a temple carved into the rock up at the top of a mountain which was inspiring, then we rode camels back out to the entrance of the park.

The next day we caught a bus down to the red sea at Aqaba and made the mistake of staying at a cheap backpacker hotel the first night and leaving that same night because of worms in the bathroom and the general disgusting condition of the room. So we jumped in a taxi that took us down a few hundred yards from the Saudi Border at the Coral Bay resort on South Beach and spent the rest of the time snorkeling and swimming at the pool. We ended up meeting a couple of foreign couples also living in Damascus and hopefully they will widen Vanessa's circle of (bored) foreign wives with kids living in Damascus.

After two days we returned to Amman and caught another bus down to the dead sea where we spent a restful day at the Marriott resort floating in the dead sea and swimming and eating as much as we could of our last night of Jordanian food.

Despite Vanessa wanting to stay in Amman for the rest of the year, I for one am glad to be back. There is something about Syria's backwardness that is charming, a last bastion of an un-westernized middle eastern city that has a flavor and excitement that you just don't find anywhere else, and at the rate things are changing here, may not last very much longer.

More photos can be found @

1 comment:

Bridget said...

The stroller that you borrowed from the church in Amman is OURS! I'm so glad someone got to use it. I hope it wasn't too beat up. We've used it two summers now and it was never a fantastic stroller to begin with.

Having lived in both Amman and Damascus, I totally agree with you that Damascus wins, hands down. Dirt and everything.