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Aren’t bumblebees cute…?
Aren’t bumblebees cute…?
I can’t say that Syria was ever on top of the list of countries that I wished to visit. We had our own “democratic republic” just around the corner in the still rather recent past, no need to visit a similar country far away and support the regime through tourism.
But what I did wish to do was to combine this year’s holiday with meeting Caesar of Pentra and that turned out to be a surprisingly difficult task.
Non-Arab countries were out of the question for a meeting (we had briefly considered going to Turkey) as there are two different types of Iraqi passports and he had the sucky one…
Jordan was out of the question because Jordan doesn’t allow Iraqis in who have entered Syria at a certain border checkpoint. Guess at which one Caesar had entered Syria…
The silly little man (*remembers her threat to keep calling him that until he changes his silly profile text on his blog to something better*) suggested going to Beirut, but I strongly disagreed with that notion.
What did this leave us with?
Iran? Strange that he didn’t suggest that.
Iraq? No comment.
So - as we say - if the prophet doesn’t come to the mountain, the mountain has to come to the prophet.
That decision made, the next complication arose. A cashier colleague of mine was suffering from cateracts. Has been for years already, naturally.
One day she came to work and went up to the office, all hush-hush. When she returned she announced that there would be a lock-down on holidays.
I was like, “What, when, why?”
“From the 13th on.”
“June. I set dates for a laser operation on my cateracts. I’ll be off sick for five weeks or so.”
*stare of disbelief*
*innocent wide-eyed look of shock* “Oh! Was that when you were going on holiday?
Of course it was. And she knew. It wasn’t as if I had been talking about much else those days…
“Did you already book?”
No. How lucky for all of us…. bitch…
She then went on to claim that she had had no say about the dates and had to be thankful that she got any anyway. “And to be honest my eyes are more important to me than your holiday.” (Well, rather the latter than the former I’d say… No, I swear I am not being spiteful. If you knew the woman in question you’d agree with me.)
The boss confirmed that sickness came before vacation, but had been under the impression that she had been clueless about her operations clashing with my holiday dates. Hah!
Soooooooo… I was informed to either scratch my vacation or move it. If I moved it to an earlier date he felt he could do without the both of us for one week but absolutely not for longer.
I conferred with Caesar about this new complication. As moving the holiday to a later date would have meant moving it to late August, he said I’d have to come earlier then.
Which didn’t make things any easier of course, as I had to rush preparations now. Unlike Jordan Syria does not issue visas at the airport/border. Au contraire, if you dare enter without one, they put you on the next flight back home.
So I hastily filled out their rather long and nosy application form, answered the question if I had ever been to occupied Palestine in the apparently required negative, and confirmed with my signature that I had no plans of seeking work in Syria either with or without payment. I also duely noted that any visa in my passport from an Israeli border crossing would render a Syrian visa null and void.
Well, as you all know, I got my visa, and I’ve never been to Israel or any part of Palestine in the past.
So I went to the travel agency and booked my flight and some insurances (including a lost luggage one…) and got special commendations for being one of the rare few persons who fly to countries with strict entry requirements and find out beforehand what I need to get to be let in and get it. The lady I talked with said it wasn’t uncommon for people to wander into their agency and try to book a flight to Syria for next week without having a visa or - in some cases - even a passport….
Meanwhile Caesar arranged for some lodgings for me.
Finally my holiday could start!
(All about me leaving the country (sort of) over at
one of my sister’s numerous blogs.
Unfortunately the photos died with the un-nerdy blog move of my sis to the nasty Kitten blog, plus the bit of text around the pics is so far down the page under all the other old posts, so I’ll refrain from including the new url here.
Melantrys, September 8th, 2009)
Monday, August 28th
Well, Monday had been reached even before I boarded the plane, so I will continue the story here.
After an uncomfortable flight (the young man I was sitting beside seemed to grow sideways when being asleep, which he unfortunately was for most of the flight) I easily managed to change planes at Schiphol Airport. The lady at the travel agency had been right - 50 minutes was actually more than enough time to make the transfer.
As on the way from Düsseldorf to Amsterdam, we had a Fokker 50 for the flight back from Amsterdam to Düsseldorf.
A short time before take-off there was a strong smell of jet fuel, and when the flight attendant came by the couple across the aisle asked her about it, but she said that was due to our being above the engine, absolutely normal, no worries, and that it would disappear in a minute. Which it did. Neither did we catch fire or anything.
They handed out the same non-vegan cookies as on the first flight. Well, this way daddy got a culinary souvenir as well, and not just aNarki.
At Düsseldorf airport I waited at the luggage conveyor belt until a young man approached me and informed me that there was no more luggage from my flight and told me where to report the loss.
There, the man at the counter either wanted to make sure that no-one could ever accuse him of making promises he didn’t keep, or he simply was an asshole. He vaguely alluded to the possibility of my luggage appearing again, for which remote eventuality I should fill out this form here and describe my lost piece of luggage. At the same time someone from the same flights was reporting his luggage as lost one clerk down the counter, but “my” clerk stolidly refused to consider and offer a helpful comment on the possibility that this meant that our luggage had merely stayed behind at Schiphol due to lack of time and that it might be on the next flight. The way he kept talking I should have considered my luggage gone for good.
“What are you still doing here, staring at me with that shell-shocked look, woman? Begone from this place!!!”
He didn’t actually say that, but it was obviously on his mind…
I dejectedly slunk off and phoned up Frenzie (and woke him; I am so sorry), in the hopes that he might be able to get more solid information from Schiphol Airport, but they were being as “helpful” as the clerk at Düsseldorf. Maybe airport personel gets a special training?
Well, at least this meant that I didn’t have to lug around a lot of weight on my train trip back home.
Fortunately the problem had indeed been the too short transfer time. Or maybe my luggage wanted to see more of Amsterdam. It must have had some adventures for sure because when the delayed luggage delivery man brought it around 11pm it was partially soaked. I was sure glad that I had wrapped all of my books into plastic bags (to protect them from being rubbed against the rest of the contents of my bag with the “open” sides and suffering damage that way by rough treatment of my luggage - who considers them throwing the luggage into puddles….?)
Ah, whatever. I had my luggage, and after around 40 hours of being awake I blissfully fell into bed.
Just a few things that were not really bound by any time frame, but which I noticed and want to share with my attentive readers…
At that time a certain shoe form was the height of fashion in Iraq, so there were quite a lot of people wearing those shoes in Jordan as well, including - I am sad to say - the Kid. The shoes were longer than the foot, narrowing down in the tip and curving slightly upwards.
The thing I just couldn’t get into my head (quite apart from the fact that those shoes were ugly as hell) was this: In a country where the worst possible insult/suspicion is that a person is a homosexual…. How can totally gay shoes become the height of men’s fashion????? Poor, confused Iraqis….
Talking of confused people and footwear (Do I see you smirking at me mentioning that the Kid was wearing those dreadful shoes as well, aNarki?) there is a certain type of German male - mostly above the age of 50 I’d say, but also those younger ones that are past 50 in their mannerisms - who will always wear their sandals with socks. Preferably those fugly men’s socks with this sort of plaid pattern. Maybe they even wear socks in bed; I don’t know.
I mean, if it’s too cold yet for sandals, wear real shoes; and if it’s 30+°, for god’s sake, give your poor feet some air and leave the socks off! Sandals were made to wear on bare feet! Old German men! Always being too proper. Such an embarrassment!
You can imagine my shock and confusion upon discovering that aNarki is an old German man…