• Back to Turkey...

    To follow us chronologically, you have to go back to Turkey, as we did before going to Iran.

  • The Border Experience - beginning of September 2004

    Crossing the Border back into Turkey:

    We reached the border at 8:00 AM, eager to beat the stifling summer heat. Instead we waited and waited, some four hours, before the nightmarish ordeal was over and we found ourselves in Turkey. The problem was that we had arrived too early; customs didn’t open until 10:00. The customs house was in the middle of cotton fields, and we arrived to find men sleeping on beds outside, underneath mosquito netting which enveloped the beds. We were taken inside the.. Read More »

  • Women in Syria

    Women’s Fashions – The Big Cover Up:
    The first thing that you notice when you enter Syria is the separation between men and women. Or perhaps it’s the way in which the women are dressed. In the northern town of Aleppo, for example, the majority of women are dressed in the black chador. Some keep their face exposed, with a black veil to cover their hair; others cover their face completely with a 360-degree veil, which is draped over their head. Those with the 360-degree veil complete the out.. Read More »

  • Politics in Syria

    Hospitality or Hatred?

    The Arab Republic of Syria is a mixed bag. On one hand, the people – even young children – say, “Welcome in Syria. Welcome in Syria.” Abdul-Hamid’s generosity and hospitality were unmatched. The tailor on the street fixed my skirt free of charge. The physical therapist at the mosque gave me a consultation and treatment free of charge. Every patient and every doctor at each clinic and hospital put me at the front of the line. All of this because I was a foreigner in thei.. Read More »

  • Desert Oasis, Camels, and Bedouin Parties

    Bedouins and Camels:
    The scenery as we neared Palmyra changed some, resembling more of what I always thought a desert should look like. There were no boulders, just a mix of sand and small stones. Mountains lined us on both sides, and the road mounted steeply just before we reached the city.

    Palmyra is an ancient city, a real desert oasis, filled with palm trees in the middle of a wide expanse of sand. Large parts of the ancient city have been uncovered since the 1950’s and the site has be.. Read More »

  • The Syrian Desert - end of August 2004

    Homs to Palmyra:
    We traveled the 200 km. between Aleppo and Homs by bus because we were way behind schedule after 2 1/2 weeks in Aleppo with my neck injury. Ali and Abdul-Hamid accompanied us to the bus station, where once again the police gave them trouble, wanting to know why they were talking to tourists. We suspect, although he wouldn’t tell us, that Abdul bribed the bus driver to let us take the bikes on the bus, even though we had already paid for it.

    About sundown, we passed a group o.. Read More »

  • Castles and Cathedrals

    St. Simeon Basilica:
    Built by Emperor Zenon 1500 years ago to honor St. Simeon, who was famous for having lived atop pillars for forty years preaching to his students, the Cathedral was enormous and well preserved. Ali took us in his three-wheeled motorcycle, which was awesome. It was the only time in weeks that I was able to forget the pain in my neck. We stopped along the way to visit another Byzantine Cathedral.

    As we rode back to Aleppo at the end of the afternoon, we passed a man on a m.. Read More »

  • Crossing the Border to Aleppo - early to mid-August 2004

    Crossing the Border:
    Crossing the border into Syria was somewhat of an experience. I always get a little bit nervous each time we cross the border into a different country, but this was different. This time, one of the first things we saw was a busload of women dressed exclusively in the black chador. They were all waiting outside the customs office, with only their eyes showing. I had taken care to completely cover myself, including my hair, before we came to the border crossing, but I still s.. Read More »