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Melantrys’ Page » Blog Archive » Trip to Damascus - Epilogue

Trip to Damascus - Epilogue


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Ok, as I already said in my Amman travel log, this is the next day, which means post-holiday, so the rest of the journey home will be part of the epilogue.

.

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

Customs held a nice surprise in the form of some weird customs tax that people leaving the country have to pay.
If I recall correctly that was 200SP1, which of course wasn’t a high amount for me, but that wasn’t the problem.
I had given all the money I had left over to Caesar, so that he wouldn’t have to pay for the long and expensive ride back into the city all by himself. After all, he’d only made the long journey to the airport because of me.
Plus, I didn’t need any SPs anymore, did I? :wait:

You know, it would really have been nice if the people from the Syrian embassy in Germany had mentioned this to me.
Or someone at the airport when I arrived.
Well, luckily I do tend to keep some local money as a souvenir, so when the lady refused to take Euros instead I unhappily dug out a 200 note and handed it over.

Then I installed myself at the gate and waited.
At one point some airport employee came and chatted me up a bit; if I was travelling to Turkey then, where I was from, etc.
Before he left he gave me a tiny package of hazelnuts because at this time of night I must surely have been starving. Well, I was indeed starving a bit, so thank you. :)

The flight to Istanbul was uneventful, as was the plane switching…. as such.
My flight from Istanbul back to Germany got cancelled though and thrown together with another flight. The plane for this “double flight” was bigger and left about half an hour later than the original one would have.

So when the plane touched down in Düsseldorf, I was already late.
I claimed my luggage2 and trundled over to customs.
First a young man stopped me and enquired after souvenirs and the monetary value of them, but when I started throwing out prices in SP, converting them to Euros and adding them out loud, he soon lost interest. The overall value of my souvenirs apparently was way below the amount of what is permissable.

So I staggered on, vaguely bemused by the labelling of the exits, and when I was just about to leave, another young man stopped me.
He leafed through my passport and asked if I was travelling alone3.
Then he asked me over to a sort of desk/bench and started going through my bags. First my carry-on luggage and the plastic bag stuffed full of souvenirs, then the big travelling bag.
When he was done un- and repacking all of my clothes - all the while keeping up a chat on the purpose of my trip - he suddenly remembered the camera he had seen in my carry-on luggage and asked, no, stated: “That’s a digital camera, isn’t it? You wouldn’t mind if I looked through your photos, would you?4 I mean, it’s not as if you have anything to hide, right?”
I told him; yup; sure, go ahead; and indeed, not.

Guess it’s a good thing he didn’t start at the back where he would soon have been confronted with a bearded, grumpy Arab :P but at the beginning with photo over boring photo of the house. I guess it is not very surprising that he soon lost interest and re-packed the camera.
It seems that my boring, non-terrorist-camp pictures made him lose all interest in me, as he didn’t even go through the last side pocket of my big bag, which was probably just as well as I am still not 100% clear if it was ok to bring the spices and the garlic, lol.

By now I was about an hour late though and wondering if my sister who was going to pick me up again had already chewed her nails down to the quick, fretting for me.
I needn’t have worried.
When I switched on my cell phone, the first thing I got was an oldish message from her, informing me that she was stuck in a traffic jam. Two further messages and traffic jams later she finally arrived.

Not that I cared much one way or the other by that time.
I was sitting in the main hall, my feet propped up on my luggage, reading one of the numerous books I had bought and flying high on having been awake for more than 24 hours by then.
That’s a real odd state to be in, seriously.

.

Concluding remarks:

As I already said in my prologue I am not too fond of the political system in place in Syria, and seeing some of the workings up close and in person sure did nothing to change that point of view.

Only recently, when he saw the drafts for my last postings, Caesar told me that I had it wrong about the situation at the bus station.
He said that at the time Syrian authorities were rather keen on hunting down Iraqis with expired residence permits.
So the people at the office inside the bus station were kind of torn. They should have notified the authorities that they had an Iraqi there who had no papers to prove he had permission to stay in the country.
On the other hand that Iraqi was with a European tourist (who was obviously already pretty pissed), and the image Syria presents to foreign countries is important to the authorities as well.

If Caesar really is right in claiming that I (or rather my presence) saved him that day, I suppose it’s just as well I wasn’t quite aware of that, or I may have looked too worried instead of annoyed and angry.

But nevertheless it is a beautiful country, stuffed chock-full of really, really ancient history, and I definitely want to visit it again (that time including places like Palmyra, and that is not a dig at you, Caesar, it was not your fault things went wrong).
Hell, just seeing the Old City again would be worth a trip.
I loved it there.

.

  1. € 2.94 or $ 4.00 [back]
  2. which had not got lost unlike at my return journey from Amman… [back]
  3. a bad combination, coming from Syria, having been in Jordan the year before and travelling all alone, it seemed [back]
  4. Of course I’d bloody well mind, Mr Customs Officer; photos are kind of… private?! [back]

9 Responses to “Trip to Damascus - Epilogue”

  1. pandora Says:

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    …hunting down Iraqis with expired residence permits.

    You mean…Caesar was in Syria ILLEGALLY ?!? :O
    *gasp* I’m shocked.

    Interesting posts, Mel. I would like to visit Damascus one day too.

  2. Melantrys Says:

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    Only until that permit was finally renewed. *glowers at you*

    It’s definitely worth a visit. :)

  3. Lynnette in Minnesota Says:

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    I’ve really enjoyed the travel posts, Mel. That was a good idea to write things down in a travel log. Thinking about the trips I’ve taken, I wish I had done something similar. While I remember a great deal, there are always the little things you forget.

  4. Melantrys Says:

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    Yes, I realized I had already forgotten quite a lot of the days I didn’t immediately put in my diary.

    Ok, it was pretty clear for meeting Khalid cos meeting up with him and his “Whities” for dinner stood out. Obviously we didn’t meet him every day.

    But the small things, indeed.
    I am sure we did a lot of stuff on the 13th that would have been noteworthy, but that was stuff I did with Caesar, and we did a lot of stuff together. So it all kind of blends together, and you don’t know what happened when exactly.
    Or the tea stop of the taxi driver. I had totally forgotten about that. If Caesar hadn’t reminded me…… *poof*

  5. Caesar of Pentra Says:

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    U didn’t mention anything about souvenirs excpet the Syrian money notes!

  6. Melantrys Says:

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    Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

    It seems Wednesday mainly consisted of eating, watching tv and shopping for souvenirs.

    *stern look*

    I didn’t make a full list, you know. :P

  7. David Says:

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    It seems that you had a most excellent adventure Mel (as Bill and Ted might say ;) ), for the most part. :)

    I wonder what the German Customs Officer thought you might be hiding on your digital camera? That seems weird!

    So, what souvenirs, aside from garlic and spices, did you bring home?

  8. thomas davis jersey Says:

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    This is my first time go to see at here and i am actually happy to read Melantrys’ Page » Blog Archive » Trip to Damascus - Epilogue all at single place.

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