The grand mosque in Damascus
In Damascus I get yet
another indication this part of the world is semi instable. I had thought about
making a trip to Lebanon
before I left home, but the situation in Lebanon were shaky at best. No I am
told the roads are block and there is no way to get to Beirut
or anywhere else in Lebanon.
Hence my plans are changed after a quick stop in Damascus
it is on to Jordan.
It is Friday
back home it is the day to go out and get a couple of beers and has fun. It is
also an ordinary working day. Not so in Damascus
- it is the day of prayer for the Muslims.
I walk down the market the giant
covered suq of Damascus
- virtually every small shop is closed.
The big mosque friday praiers going on inside. But you could still go in.
walking around the closed market we head for the main mosque even though there
are some private prayers going on you can still go in and enjoy the magnificent
interior of the building and walk around the courtyard - on bare feet on
steaming hot stones.
Lunch is in
a small restaurant in town pretty good food like always in Syria. Then out
to explore the city again. Going back to the market - no it has come to live -
the shops are still closed but in front of the small shops there are a lot of
street sellers selling all there good - cloths shishas whatever you want. And
cheap as well.
down and suddenly a policeman comes along in his uniform.
All the stalls start
to pack up quickly - something is going on - they are not allowed to sell stuff
from the street. Is there a police raid going on? The possibility of getting
caught in the middle of a Syria
police raid on black market sellers is not a really appealing prospect. We need
to get the hell out of here!! And fast. We get out of the market as fast as
possible and get ready to leave the area fast. In the end it was not really a
police raid just one uniform man going down the street grabbing some stuff from
one of the stalls for his own use - so much for the protection by the police of
private property - not an issue in Syria.
The other end of the giant courtyard of the mosque
along in Damascus
and wonder into another part of town. Then everything changes. The shops are
open and the women are not wearing headscarfs anymore. We have left the Muslim part
of Damascus and
are now in the Christian part of town.
The large Christian minority in Syria came as a
surprise for me. I knew there was a large Christian community in Egypt and of course Lebanon
- but the fact that Christians and Muslims had coexisted peacefully in Syria for
centuries were new to me.
After a bit
of sightseeing in the Christian parts of town it is time to head back. We get
on a minibus and show the driver where we want to go. He says ok and we agree
of a price of 50 cents each it is a shared minibus and there are a few other
passengers in it - it has not got a printed route or anything like that but we
assume he is going our direction since he seem to now the place we stayed.
head of with the other passengers in the minibus - and we head the opposite
direction of where we are going.
We start to go left and right and he picks up more
passengers and puts other passengers of. We keep going further and further away
from were we want to be. The drive sets of more passengers and pick up one new
one. The minibus is getting empty - he stops and the last passenger leave.
We are now
alone in the minibus - miles and miles away on the other side of town not
knowing how to get back and without much cash. Desperation is about to kick in
- are we getting kidnapped or will this end up with the driver raising the
price to 10 times what we originally agreed upon. We start to think about how
we get out of the minibus quickly and run for cover.
drive along from were we dropped the last remaining passenger of and drive into
the unknown then about 30 seconds later - there we are just were we asked to
get - home sweet home. I don't think it is an exaggeration to say we were