Bye Bye Bicycles

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

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Flag of Syria  ,
Monday, January 4, 2010

2010.  I haven't had anytime at all to think about it.  Everything in 2009 was about starting this trip.  House sold, jobs quit, belongings in storage, 10 year anniversary...What could be left for 2010?  Actually, I feel that 2009 is not over as our trip is not yet over.   I have not had anytime to think about the upcoming year or make plans at all.  But still, I think there are some changes on the horizon. 

Damascus is a city of change.  A place where radical things happen.  The apostle Paul was a zealot killing and persecuting Christians, but on the way to Damascus he was blinded by the Lord and his life took a 180 degree turn (as hr journeyed, he came near Damascus, and suddenly a great light shone around him from heaven...then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were open he saw no one  Acts 9:3, 8).  After being cured, (Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight.  And Ananais entered the house and laying hands on him he said 'Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road as you came has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 9:11, 17), he became one of the most influential men spreading Christianity.  We've now walked over the river where he was baptized and saw the place where he was lowered out over the city wall (...and through a window in a basket I was let down by the wall and escaped 2 Corinthians 11:33). 

But our 'conversion' was a little less dramatic than Paul's.  We eventually had to call in the Dr. for Brian's continued illness.  Diagnosis:  acute bronchitis.  Several bouts of antibiotics and a few days of strict bed rest were prescribed.  Looks like we're staying in Damascus for awhile and won't be cycling anytime too soon.  Now I'm left on my own to try and figure out what to do with the bikes.  Cycle shops are few and far between - even in a city of this size (at least quality ones).  The few that could be found had very flimsy racks that would not support the weight of our bags.  Brian thought he could possibly find a weld shop and could build some racks himself, but being out of commission....  So instead, I went around shopping for some backpacks and shipping companies. 

Eventually, I found some very high quality, 'authentic' NIKE backpacks - LOL!  They are very sexy and extremely uncomfortable.  Terribly made, I'm actually quite sure that the stitching will go the first time they're used, but at least I did a good job bargaining and got them for cheap.  Being the only thing I could find besides tiny backpacks and luggage I took what I had. 

Shopping around for cargo companies was even less successful.  I was able to find a few, but none could give me concrete answers on procedures and prices.  What I wouldn't do for a little western professionalism in times like this.  I want to know price, customs, airlines, etc., not 'it will get to Canada Inshalla', and 'we can talk some more tomorrow'.  Going back to the same company more than once, gets me different answers each time - at least from what I can decipher through the language barrier... 

Picking the lesser of the two evils, we carted all our gear and bikes to a shop only to find that they could not take our bikes until the next day.  So, picking the greater of the two evils, this shop would at least take our bikes today.  A very precise procedure of weighing our luggage took place while a guy came out and lifted them to guesstimate what the weight may be.  Then with a down payment and no receipt, our bikes were carted away to be crated and shipped to the airport.  Now all we needed was to return tomorrow when the 'official' paperwork would come. 
But the next day there was bad news.  The airline company wouldn't take the actual weight of the crate because it was too small.  Instead they took the volume weight of the crate.  So instead of 70kg, they would charge for 235kg.  Needing a cheaper option, the shipping company promised to look into different airlines that may be less expensive for us.  But we would have to return the next day...

Next day there was more bad news.  They couldn't find a cheaper airline.  Actually the one that they had booked refused the crate saying it was too large.  The only airline now that would take it was more expensive still.  Come back at the end of the day and we'll have the paperwork. 

By this time Sharilyn was about to blow a gasket! 

So they brought in an interpreter, poured some coffee and ate the extra charges.  And instead of coming back at the end of the day for papers, they were personally delivered within half an hour. 

Thank goodness!  With hours left on our Syrian visa we crossed the border into Jordan.  Time to get out before all our money was drained from the account~
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Eunah Hunter on

Sorry Brian got sick and the unprofessionalism when dealing with shopkeepers. I'm sure thinks will workout and be better!

2totango on

the sickness was pretty terrible. i was quite worried for awhile as he lost a lot of weight. but he's better now:)

the unprofessionalism wasn't so bad. not that it wasn't professional, it was just Syrian professional which differs somewhat from western professional.

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