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Published: July 30th 2009
The Mid-East version of Tractor Supply
Valeri studying the camel goods in Amman. Bridles, halters and camel bells, oh my! The purchase may have been particularly big because the owner said the pictures of the camels were beautiful!
When we are not eating or driving across the countryside, we find time to hit the markets and souqs. We fell in love with the Old Market in Damascus, Syria. It is extremely old, lively, crowded and vibrant. It is a market for locals and it sold everything you could imagine. The craziest thing we saw in the Damascus Market was two women shopping, dressed in all black with veils over their faces. They caught my eye because they were lifting their veils so that they could see the products in the kiosk. Naturally, I looked to what was worth lifting their veils and I was a bit taken aback when I saw they were perusing a lingerie shop--very kinky lingerie!
Beirut, Lebanon offered more modern, upscale fashion shopping (commonly called Paris of the Middle East). With the abundance of men's fashion boutiques, we were constantly losing Kyle! Some of our best shopping was in Aleppo, Syria. The cobblestone pathways and stone archways were irresistible. Besides, where else can you buy spices, olive oil soap, clothes, fresh pistaschios, and goat tongue in one stop?
I have been pretty controlled, but Kyle and Dad cannot stop spending. Okay, maybe not.
Trunk Sale in Manhattan?
The Marketplace in Damascus was the last stop on the Silk Road...even in Damascus, there is a buzz about Caravan Antique's 2nd Annual Trunk Sale. Who knew?
Dad was looking for something for the loft that would be a constant reminder of the trip. In the Old Market in Damascus, he found an antique Gallileo Globe. The store owner worked on polishing the globe in order to seal the deal. Apparently, the globe had been in his shop for 15 years and no one had paid it any mind. As he worked, he told us that John Kerry frequently stopped at his shop and so did the wife of Musharraf (former prime minister of Pakistan). He told us he had pictures of them shopping and the globe was in the picture. We believed him (sort of), but now that he has sent us the picture by e-mail, we have proof!
One of the greatest scenes we experienced was in the Old City in Aleppo, Syria--an ultra conservative community where the women dress very traditionally. Kyle was running low on underwear and planned to buy some new ones--a plan that worked well in Turkey because it is cheaper to buy new underwear than to pay to wash your old ones. He found some brightly colored, Euro-looking undergarments and began negotiating prices, looking for sizes and sorting through the colors. As if being American, dressing like Westerners and speaking English was not drawing enough attention to us!
While he was talking with the shop owner, getting money and finishing the transaction, dad and I noticed two muslim women had stopped and were staring at the entire scene. Dad and I stood back and giggled. When we told Kyle about his audience, he concluded that they must have been picturing what he would look like in his new purchase!
As usual, I have been looking for large, fabulous rings and camel supplies. We stumbled unto a "Tractor Supply" like kiosk in Amman, Jordan and Allepo, Syria. In both places, I was able to find halters, bridles and Bedouin accessories to make the camels look glamourous. I brought pictures of my camels and I had to use them to communicate with the shop owners. I don't speak Arabic, they didn't speak English, but the pictures mad it clear what I needed. They were impressed that I had camels...especially such beautiful camels! As for bling...nothing seems to compare with Turkey, but I have snatched up a few rings that I really like. After snatching up a few that I liked, Kyle looked at them and said, "They are not as nice as the ones you bought in Turkey, but they are okay." Good grief!
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