At (everyone elses) home in Hama

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
Trip End Sep 30, 2010

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Where I stayed
El Riad Hostel

Flag of Syria  , Hama Governorate,
Thursday, February 11, 2010

Conversations in Syria always seem to go like this (usually conducted in a mix of arabic, English, mime and possible even pictionary):
Welcome to Syria!!
Where are we from? Ah, Australia, we love Australians!
How old are we?
Are we brother and sister?
Ah!! married!! And am I pregnant? no? well where have we left our baby? we don't have a baby? when will we have a baby?
To which the correct answer seems to be inshallah (it will happen if god wills it)

The villages surrounding Hama contain some stunning sights. We started by visiting Crac des Chevaliers, a huge white Crusader castle - luckily we remembered our torches, but all the escape tunnels seemed to be sealed off. Out on a lonely plateau is the ancient city of Apamea complete with 2km long reconstructed colonnaded street and the citadel walls are strung with peoples clotheslines and concrete houses. At the Byzantine citadel of Shayzar two young boys picking weeds took a liking to us and followed us around the site, chatting away in arabic. I think they were showing us the sights, who knows.

Half the fun is in getting to the sights - crammed into a tiny minibus with the locals who go out of their way to help us find where we are going. Strolling through the villages, offers of tea are frequent, as are cries of 'welcome to Syria' and 'hello'. The first day we attempted to visit Apamea we never made it to the site, after three 17 year old Syrian girls on the bus invited us home for tea and then spent the whole afternoon showing us around their village and introducing us to all their friends and relatives, resulting in an impromptu party as they tried to teach us to dance (we were so terribly bad at it, they even put on some western sounding music and asked if maybe we could "dance in English?"). As seems to be the norm in Syria, a few thousand photos were taken on everyones camera phones to mark the occassion.

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Candice on

the pressure is on!

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