Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I had heard about Kabas for a while - it is the Syrian equivalent to the Friday market in Cairo, where the poor people go to buy anything and everything they could ever want. People set up their wares on both sides of a highway and the junk market stretches on for about two kilometers.

I love looking in these markets for hidden treasures, antiques or things you just can't find anywhere else. Vanessa thinks I'm crazy for going to markets like this, even most Syrians think I'm crazy or don't even know it exists. My favorite part of course was the Animal market where there were jars of snakes, squirrels, turtles, all kinds of birds and fish, cats, dogs, gerbils, etc.

Otherwise I have been making regular visits to the dentist because of all the sweets that I've been eating over here. Almost everything you eat here has massive amounts of sugar in it, and people eat sweets like mad. One doctor told us that almost 80% of Syrians over the age of 40 have diabetes, so pretty much diabetes is just expected. You can't believe how much sugar is in everything from the "fresh" juices and tea to the sugary syrupy desserts. Anyways, I had two cavities and went to one of the best dentists in town and it cost me $30. His office was cleaner and more modern than my dentist in the US. I love the health care here.

For Thanksgiving we ate a big meal at the missionary couples house last night complete with stuffing one of their kids sent from the states. Tonight we're going to a thanksgiving potluck dinner that all of the flagship students are having, and we're all going in on an imported turkey that will cost us about $60. Can't wait.

In their latest series of blocking dangerous websites, the Syrian authorities have blocked facebook, Vanessa's sole social outlet, so both her and I apologize for not being able to reply to any recent comments.

Hanging out in the only public garden in Damascus, called the botanical garden inside the old city. In the background you can see the Damascus citadel, a huge fortress that has been closed to the public for restoration ever since the mid nineties. If you look closely in the middle of the picture you can see Vanessa sitting on the stroller nursing Alexa.

Going shopping in the old city just outside the spice market

Alexa doing her hair.

There are a few more pics of the Kabas market here, if interested:

Thursday, November 15, 2007


This is us getting exited about winter clothing. Vanessa and I at least. We pulled our suitcases down from the little storage room everyone has above their bathroom and packed up our summer clothes until next year. It is really refreshing to own so little.

Today when Vanessa was making her daily visit to the park by our house it was invaded by some Gypsy kids who terrorized the entire playgound and fought and tossed bottles and kids around until some men got together and threw them out. Vanessa was traumatized by one kid who had been hit by a car at some point and was mangled and kept wanting to come up and bother Alexa. Gypsies are a problem here as in all eastern countries as they aren't allowed to go to government schools and so can never pull themselves out of the poverty/begging cycle. They just kind of roam the streets begging and wreaking havoc. In addition to that a guy asked her if she was Russian, which is another way of asking if she was a prostitute.

I need to post some pictures of us as relatives are starting to complain. To the right is Alexa getting ready for her nightly shower from the faucet above the toilet (see below). She is saying a few words now and almost walking without help from the wall and goes crazy over other babies, cats, and telephone ringtones. To the horror of Vanessa, her favorite music to dance to is Bluegrass Hillbilly music and doesn't really like latin.

We've been going a little crazy with the perfume shops in town, where they will mix with their magical syringes any cologne, perfume or scent on the market, and it smells exactly the same as the real thing. We found these mini pottery jugs that you can fill with the scents and it slowly seeps through like an air freshener, so we have hung them about our apartment and it smells of sweet, sweet lavender. Like I'm coming home to a fresh field.

We just got back from dinner in the old city and saw that they had torn up the entire main street (straight street) and are re-doing it in cute cobblestone with nice lighting and are doing an entire face lift to the whole bab sharki section of town (in time for the Arab summit no doubt). I hadn't been to that part of the old town in over a month and I saw about five new restaurants, the place is really becoming something worth seeing. So you should come and see.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Chilly Willy

This halloween we are being party poopers and not going out. There is a party at the Marine house, but where would one find a costume I don't know, unless we wanted to dress in some crazy Syrian leapord print, but then nobody would know we were dressing up. We're probably going to pick a movie out of our growing pile of 50 cent bootleg movies I pick up under the presidents bridge on my way home from school. That's one great thing about having no copyright laws - that you can buy the latest dvds, cds, or computer software for under a buck.

We visited the shia mosque of saida zeinab the other day, and got to see people weeping and wailing around the tomb of one of the prophet's (SAS) grand daughters. It's a shia mosque built by Iranian funds and has walls that are covered with tons of really tiny mirrors. I also bought some little bricks of mud from mecca that shias touch their heads to when they pray. They make good conversation peices on our coffee table. I bought some childrens books for Alexa since she is bored of hers, but once I read through them at home I found they were full of english spelling and grammar errors, not so good for learning to read. We went to the big semi-new mall in Kafr Sousa with the missionary couple and looked around all of the overpriced clothing stores a bit then went shopping in the supermarket in the basement which is a little nicer than the supermarkets where we live, as in they have three kinds of cereal instead of two. There is also a real donught shop and the jordanian fast food chain Chili's where you can get chili cheese fries.

Speaking of chilly, the weather is getting colder, and the women that wear overcoats all year long are finally smiling (a little). Alexa wears long pants and cleans our dirty floors with her constant crawling and rolling around. No matter how often you clean, every day there is a new layer of fine black dust all over everything. Even with the windows closed it gets in. I guess that's what you get in the city with the second worse air quality in the Middle east - right behind Cairo.