Ruins near Iraq
Dayr az Zawr Travel Blog› entry 17 of 32 › view all entries
Today we explored two ruins (Mari and Dura Europos) near the Iraq border. If we were able to cross into Iraq we would probably find plenty more ruins ... more contemporary ones caused by man-made situations. Sad but true.
It was another 7am start to avoid the heat of the day. Our driver Nader drove us down over an hour to the ruins of Mari about 20km away from the Iraqi border, near the town of Abu Kamal.
Even though we tried, we didn’t get around to having a photo taken with an “Iraq” road sign at the outskirts of town. It was too difficult at times with baggage and the heat.
Ruins #1 - Mari
While Mari is not visually stunning (eg. tall, elaborate etc), it is utterly amazing to see and be amongst ruins from old Mesopotamia from 5000 years ago.
Ruins #2 - Dura Europos
Backtracking a little, we then went to the ruins of Dura Europos, which is a walled city high on one bank of the Euphrates. This, in contrast to Mari, is much newer at about 2000 years old and also Roman instead of Syrian.
Our hotelier explained that the border at Abu Kamal is only open to Iraqis. Syrians need special permission. Other nationalities can’t get through. There doesn’t seem to be any presence of refugees.
Note: While I knew there weren't any specific travel warnings (by the New Zealand government) for this area, I didn't realise till days later that the US helicopters had encroached into this area about two years ago and made some bombings which killed 8 people (per Wikipedia)
The desert heat
Upon arriving at Deir Al-Zur, it felt like an oven ... I could feel the hot desert air even though it was evening. The air temperature on Salomi’s watch indicated that the air temperature was around 30 degC during our stay but the readout at the town square went up to 42 degC ... that’s probably the direct temperature in the sun.
Then came the night ... you know, it’s not always cold in the desert at night. It wasn’t cold outside.
In the hotel it was worse. The concrete, mattress and wooden bed head (and everything else) had absorbed heat during the day and warmed up. I could feel them smile as they unloaded and radiated their heat to me as I lay in bed sweating. My pillow was wet from the sweat running down my neck.
To make it worse ... the hotel had given me a synthetic sheet and pillow case.
If there is one consolation, one doesn't have to keep running to the loo despite drinking lots of water. Hehehe ... no need to jump out of bed early in the morning bursting to go, or be apprehensive about using unfamiliar loos while out on the road.