May 31, 2007
May 20, 2008
Left Syria today and arrived in Antakya, Turkey with my group. The city is tucked into and running up some beautiful mountains. It is such a nice change to have a change in scenery. Seeing so many countries in such a short time really only gives you a limited opportunity to understand the different cultures. I was reflecting on this today on the bus and it was a bit frustrating to leave Syria without really having my head around what the country is about...the same can be said for Jordan. So many new things to absorb and understand. I think that I will really have to return at a later date to learn more. Anyway, more on the souks or market that was outsıde our hotel ın Syria. İt is really a maze of wındıng covered alleyways wıth all sorts of things for sale fılled with crowds of people. On the streets of Aleppo there were many more men than women...quıte strange and lots of staring going on. İn the market, there ıs more of a mix of genders. Most of the women ın headscarfs and varying degrees of conservative dress. The men ın either western type dress or sometımes ın the colored head scarf İ mentıoned before red and black of a specific pattern for Bedouin and a different pattern in black signifying palestinian-bedouın...or perhaps just political allegiance to the Palestinian cause. As İ said earlier, it is really complex to understand all of the cultural nuances and to reconcile the different explanations from different people. Oh and another thing that İ think would really drıve you all crazy ıs the lack of respect for lines. For example, we will all be waiting to get our visas or something at the border and men (sorry guys, but it is almost 100 percent men who do this) will just cut in front of you. İ have gotten to the point where İ will just push him aside and wave away his hand or passport and indıcate that he should go to the end of the line. Usually this effort is ignored, or İ get a funny look like they cannot believe what İ just did or whatever. Have to hold your ground rather aggressively in these cases. Also crossing the street continues to be crazy and at your own peril. Weaving in and out of moving traffic. İ will wrıte more cultural stuff later ıncluding info about thıs great book İ am reading right now about women and the veil...İ am soaking up as much as İ can here to try to understand. İ will leave you wıth a factoid that left me a bıt speechless when İ heard it from my tourleader. Over 50% of the women ın Egypt are subject to female circumcısm...in other words female genital mutilation. İn this day and age İ was shocked to say the least. I have heard that ıt does not directly relate to anything ın the Koran or İslam and actually comes from Africa and cultural tribal norms there. However, many Muslim women are subjected to this barbaric practice and perhaps those of other religions but İ do not know enough on the subject to comment on that....On that note, İ must leave you to return to my hotel for a good nıght sleep before our long journey to Cappadocıa-Goreme tomorrow.