It’s a small thing and I shouldn’t complain. Others have real threats to their freedom, and my little story is just an inconvenience. It's just disappointing. I thought I had discovered the perfect running biking and running route,. Head out of my hous and down the hill, ruin a km along the highway, then 3 km straight uphill and 3 down, a lovely wide road, no potholes, little traffic and a great view from the top. Too good to be true? Apparently.
On Friday I did the route by bike for the second time without incident, waving at soldiers, traffic cops and construction workers en route. On the way home I did a really interesting little detour, maneuvering through the narrow streets of Mezzeh’s poorest area, a rag taggle bunch of buildings stuck between the military infested hills and the well to do Mezzeh apartments. I got home, put on my runners, and struck out to do the same route by foot. Thirty-five minutes of huffing and puffing, and I was at the top again. Pausing for a swig of water, I noticed a soldier waving at me. I waved back, but then realized it was a come over here wave, not a have a good run wave. We had a little chat. I was politely informed in Arabic/English that running isn’t allowed on “the President’s road”. You can pass through the area quickly in your car if you have good reason to, but traveling by foot creates a risk that the President’s men are not willing to tolerate. I have to say that the young soldier was very polite and apologetic. But also firm. I could not continue. I must go back the way I came. And I should NOT come back to run or bike on this road. Darn!
So this is Syria. I have a guard outside my house who knows my every move. I can’t run on the perfect road. I will have to ask my driver to take me somewhere “safe” on holy day (his day off) so I can run and bike without threatening the security of republic. It’s a small thing. I still love this place and the people. I just wish I could run where I want to run.
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