Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /www/htdocs/w0081e40/wp-includes/formatting.php on line 75
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)