Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Goodbye Damascus

It's down to my last week in Damascus and I'm starting to miss it already. I've been up in the mountains climbing a lot, and I went this last week with my classmates up to north-western Syria up near the Turkish border and saw a lot of sights that reminded me of back home. I went swimming in lakes surrounded by pine-trees and frolicked on the best beach Syria has to offer (which is about as nice as the Great Salt Lake). All of our teachers came with us and it was fun to finally be able, after a year of toil, to switch seamlessly between English and Arabic, depending on the audience, without even thinking about it. We visited the late presidents tomb, guarded by men in black leather jackets, and the mountain castle of Salah Ad-diin, and Ugarit, the place the first alphabet was discovered.

Now I've had all of my farewell parties and it's just a few more days until my plane leaves and I see Vanessa and Alexa in DC, then it's on to Peru. I can't wait to see them, it's been over four months. At the same time I will really miss Damascus. Of course there are many things I won't miss, like the pollution, the non-variety in food (I can't even look at shwarma, kebab, shish tawuuk, or falafel for at least a year), the zionist conspiracy theories (which now incluces Facebook), close mindedness when it comes to change ("but that's how we do it here..."), fashion that's stuck in the 80's, being followed and monitored by secret police, blocked websites, annoying Arab men, etc. But there are many things that I will miss, like the safety, how there is literally almost no crime or violence at all in Syrian society, the markets and shopping, eating in the old city, bootleg DVD's, the innocence and naivete of Syrians, the archeological sites, the good friends I've made, etc. Most of all I'll miss the absence of a monotonous job and the same routine every day. Above is the lake called the "7 seas" that we stopped at for lunch, and while others were admiring the view I snuck down and did a little swimming.

I'm glad I got to witness a change in Syrian society as it is now coming out of it's post-soviet era bubble and has started to open up to the world and experience the joys of things like a class divide, with the appearance of expensive coffee-shops and restaurants and shops that suddenly only a small, exclusive section of society can enjoy. And I'm exited to return sometime in the future and see how much more it will have changed. All in all it was quite an experience, and although I wish my family had been here the whole time, the six months with them was memorable and I learned a lot. It sure went by quickly. That's my graduating class above, minus 3 that already left, and our 3 teachers.
I highly recommend Syria to all, and thanks to those REAL friends who did visit me. Keep posted for rockwoodsinperu.blogspot.com.

1 comment:

Katie said...

Strangly that whole post made me sad. I'll really miss reading your blog while I mindlessly toil and waste away in my cubicle. I hope and look forward to the same sort of interesting things coming out of your time in Peru.