Welcome, Welcome, Welcome!

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of Syria  ,
Sunday, December 27, 2009

 When learning a new language, I usually cover the basics:  hello/goodbye, please/thank you, yes/no, how much/too expensive, and maybe a few numbers.  But ‘welcome’ is not usually one of them.  However, to Syrians, this seems to be the only word they know in English.  More-so than ‘hello’, they greet you with ‘welcome’.  

This is not a word I’ve used very much.  Welcome.  What a wonderful sound and feel to the word.  To receive a ‘warm welcome’.  Welcome to my home, my town, my country.  You are welcome here.  Instead of just a greeting, it’s a pleasure to have you here and how can I make your stay more enjoyable?

But despite being so welcome, to day was a very trying day.  

Leaving Aleppo led us through a series of twists and turns which seemed to return us to the same places.  On one particular right hand turn, the road was wet and covered with a fine silt.  Taking the turn too fast, my bike slid out from under me losing all traction and left me on the road covered in filth while my bike skittered away from me.  Getting up and grabbing my bike as quickly as I could, I was very thankful that the taxi following me stopped in time rather than crushing my bike.  I tried to clean myself up s best as possible and get out of the city.  

Despite the smooth Syrian pavement, Brian got another flat tire!  Pullout out the tube, he found that he had 2 punctures to patch.  All fixed and ready to go, as soon as the bike was loaded, pssssssssst!  There it goes again!  Entire tube changed rather than patched this time, I went over the tire thoroughly and found 2 tiny pieces of glass.  Brian wasn’t feeling great to start with, and this certainly didn’t make him feel better!

Continuing on, Brian notices that my bags don’t look right.  Sure enough, another clip is broken off and the bag is flopping around.  At least this one I can understand.  After the impact of the fall earlier in the day.  Lashings and bungees in place, I attempt to secure it to my bike for a little while longer. 

But Brian’s stomach won’t let us.  Pulling over for a rest for him, and some food for me we try to figure out what to do when a bus pulls in!  I run to see if we can take it and bikes are rolled on just as they are without even removing the bags. 

The worst part is, today was a BEAUTIFUL day for cycling.  Blue skies, warm air, flat terrain…Everything was welcoming and right today, but us. 
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