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Published: December 22nd 2004
and a river runs through it
The Euphrates river, as seen when it runs through Deir Ez-Zur. The suspension bridge is for pedestrians (and bicycles and the occasional motorcycle) only and makes for great afternoon excursions for the entire family.
I finally have pictures.
I decided to splurge on the hotel last night, paying $6 rather than $4 for a room with private shower and cable tv. There was a really loud noise emanating from a water pump which threatened to cause hearing problems, but the manager assured me it would be over before 7pm, so I head out to explore. I got back around 1am and the noise was still going on. I asked the guys at the reception to turn it off and they were like "oh, sure, yeah we'll do it right away", so I go back to my room... 10 minutes pass, nothing. Back downstairs to the reception: "what's up?" "oh, right", and someone gets up and goes to the electrical shed, so I figure maybe they were just dragging their heels the last time, and head back up to my room. 10 minutes later, still no change. This time when I head back down the guy I had been speaking to is gone, and the only guy there doesn't speak any english. He explains that he's unable to turn off the pump but that it will automatically turn off at 1:30. I think "fair enough,
Castle in the Desert
This is a castle on the outskirts of Mayadin, about 80km from Iraq. The surrounding landscape is, as you can tell, true unmitigated Desert.
I'll brush my teeth in the meantime" (ahem, yes, brush my teeth). At 1:50 I head downstairs again to ask why the noise hasn't stopped, only to find that the reception light is off and they've dragged a table in front of it so I can't open the door... unbelievable! At this point I'm fairly pissed off and start knocking on the door and thinking what my options are at this time of night, especially considering I already paid them, when the sound magically stops. I finally hit the pillow at 2am, after a full hour of being ignored.
I wake up at 8am to the same sound of the water pump. I'm not sure, it may have started earlier but I was probably too tired to notice before 8am... I put on clothes, head downstairs and try to explain that this is completely unacceptable, it's only 8am, the noise barely turned off at 2, and could they please turn it off. Again, "oh, sure" and someone gets up and goes into some closet somewhere. Still naive, I head upstairs. Of course, there's no change. I finally remember my earplugs, manage to screw them on and shut out the
The Bedouin are apparently gone for good. The occasional black tent remains, and they still tend sheep but they are apparently no longer nomadic and only venture very short distances into the Desert. The camels, also, have been replaced by motorcycles. This sort of house seems much more popular these days. Note how the house almost blends in with its surroundings, giving everything the same uniform tone of brown.
world and get in a couple more hours of decent sleep.
The shower didn't have hot water and the TV didn't work... I promptly packed up my stuff and moved over to the cheaper hotel.
The rest of the day was spent visiting an amazing
crusader castle. It's simply unbelievable how much the region resembles the Marmara region in Turkey (around Bursa and especially the Bursa-Balikesir region which I now know so well). In the evening I met some young people on the street and hung out with them for the rest of the night. They assured me there would be a street party here on christmas eve (a couple of them are christian) and that it would be totally worth my while if I stay in Lattakia, which actually doesn't sound like such a bad idea. I met a guy who was headed for Bethlehem for christmas eve, an excellent plan except it's too soon and too far away...
Enjoy the pictures.
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