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Published: October 28th 2008
Sunset camel ride over the ruins
It was a rude awakening this morning to quickly pack up my things and hustle along to get on my sunset camel ride tour of the ruins. Trying to change your clothes in a pitch black tent surrounded by 24 of your fellow passengers was never going to be an enjoyable experience - not to mention an extremely un-coordinated one. Yes!! My top was inside out & back to front. But I quickly put on as many layers as I could to beat the morning cold and made my way to the spot for my camel ride.
Is it me? But I don’t understand why I always seem to end up with donkey….or in this case - the dumb arse camel. I spent most of my ride hanging onto my yet un-named camel sideways as we walked towards the ruins. No amount of shifting on my part would get me upright. The constant mutterings by the camel guides and my constant explanation back to them that it was the seat and not me - didn’t seem to get communicated clearly.
But despite this initial seating issue - the view of the sunset over
I believe in you
Syria is covered with photos of their Presidents - Past & Present.
(This photo courtesy of Cameron)
the ruins was certainly worth the side saddle ride & my very sore inner thighs. We sat huddled together over the boulders watching the sun come up and felt the temperature slowly creep up from the freezing cold of the morning as things started to slowly heat up in the sun.
Our peaceful morning soon gave way as we waved goodbye to the sunset & our respective camels; made a mad dash back to the tents to finish packing our things, guzzle down some breakfast and jumped into the truck to reach our next destination of Damascus. Don’t be cruel to the birds.....
We reached Damascus around 11am. Driving into the city was rather uninspiring. It was what you would expect of any capital city - An urban sprawl of densely populated housing. But as this was the Middle East - I also saw hills of sand dunes surrounding the city as we drove in and a dilapidated sandy tinge to the buildings & houses that we saw as we drove into the city centre.
We eventually pulled into a turn off by what at first struck me as the local dump - but eventually turned out
A bed for the night?
Our first sight of our campsite. A rather frightening concept...
to be the demolished remains of a local Volvo dealership. A burned out ‘Camping’ sign painted on the wall of the gated area we were going to be staying at gave me some inclination as to the quality of our up-coming pit stop for the night. The camp site itself was nothing but a grassy lawn with a footpath & a shower block, in a gated enclosure along a side road of what seemed like a semi-industrial part of town. That said - we dumped our bags and ventured out with our tour leader to get taxis into the centre of Damascus for the rest of the afternoon.
As this was the middle of their Ramadan holiday we were forewarned that everything in Damascus would be practically closed. Our taxi driver eventually managed to get us into the town centre - in a car that seemed to be held together with rubber bands & a couple of safety pins - and we set off in different directions to explore the city and find something to eat.
Myself and two of the girls (Stephanie & Melinda) made a beeline for the souks to see if they were open for
Where should we go?
Driving through the desert on the way to Damascus. There is nothing to see except the eerie stillness of the desert as far as the eye can see.
a spot of shopping. Sadly, without the aide of a map, we eventually got lost and ended up in the park of the souk that was predominantly closed for the holiday period.
We back-tracked towards the square in an attempt to find something to eat and meandered across ‘Pet Street’ (That is what I am going to call it anyway). A few stalls were selling hutches filled with live pigeons and other types of birds, small turtles & plastic drums of live small snakes. Although that in-itself was strange enough for me to witness - I was even more shocked by the hordes of young boys huddled in groups along the street corners holding the birds by their wings and shaking them violently to see how they would fly before stuffing them into brown paper bags and disappearing with their purchases.
Even stranger to witness along the next street corner were the additional hordes of young boys, some as young as seven or eight huddled around a stall of cigars & cigarettes haggling with one another to purchase individual sticks, whilst smoking them at the same time.
Exhausted from the previous few late nights - we decided
that some rest at the campsite would be of more benefit that wandering aimlessly along the streets of Damascus in the hopes of finding something open. We made our way back narrowly beating the horde of French Winnebago drivers who descended upon the campsite, covering up most of the free grassy lawn with their mini houses on wheels.
It would seem that this would be one of the very few campsites in Damascus - A lonely little patch of grass in the middle of nowhere, shared by the big white Winnebago vans & the tiny little blue tents.
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