|Well gang, since we last left you we have had more adventures. By the way we currently cannot send regular email or check emails you have sent. We left Aleppo and ventured further south and inland. We are exploring Syrian Desert. The thing for you to keep remembering is the night before we entered Syria was a bush camp with no shower and no toilet. Our room in Aleppo =no shower and no toilet (at least working ones) our first stop in desert is an old old village called Rasefer. It was a caravan stop between Damascus and the Euphretes and later on the Silk trade Route. It is mentioned in the bible. It is in the middle of nowhere and as described by tour book "in the middle of a featureless desert." It is built out of incredible rock that looks like glass and musty have glowed in the desert and been a beacan for travelers. We had a lovely sunset and sunrise. We were there by ourselves so we could just wander at will.
Bush camp again =no shower and no toilet. The next day (5/6) we are going to Palmyra. Our tour leaders have decided it would be fun to go off main road and use a compass and get directions from locals. This is to travel over desert and some mountains. So we set off at 8 am.
A guide from Apelloi told them to drive 7 km down the road and turn off and go southeast on a dirt road. We arrive at the road for the 7 km, to a distance, stop at a litle cafe (term used loosely) have a cup of tea and ask more directions and off we go again. Toni, the driver, does not seem to know left from right and she turns wrong way, backs up, turns around and goes a ways and misses the turn, so we are up and down the road in front of the cafe 3 times Finally we get on to the desert road (term used loosely) and start across flat barren desert peppered here and there with Bedowin tents. DRivers are excited and for a time it seems to be going well when we come to a fork in the road and make wrong choiuce and end up "bouncing" along over rough roads and up and down gullies and washes. They finally decide to turn around and go back to the cafe road. They felt it was too rough for the truck. "Duh!" We finally get back and have a huge rock stuck between 2 tires on the back. The people at the cafe aaare looking plus a flock of sheep and the shepherd are looking on also. To get the rock out, they had to let air out of the tires. Finally we are ready. By this time we passengers thought they would get on the main paved road but no, down the cafe road we go, pull into place with lots of men and trucks and ask questions. They say "very bad road, not good road." Back up to where the road is and now we find a road commission. They say road is good for a bit and then road boom boom. Our first clue should have been wrecked and broken down vehicles in their yard and rescue tow trucks! So off we go on boom boom road after a few stops and starts. It is now 10:30 and we have not even headed across the desert yet.
The road is fine for awhile but when it went to boom boom, it really went. We were like rag dollsa in the truck. After about an hour of this we get on a freshly paved road and go along well but take a wrong turn. Finally a white truck comes along and tells us to follow him and we do. When he comes to a paved road, he draws a map in the sand for directions. By this time we are all very frustrated at all the wasted time. When we reach Palmyra, Gail said Praise God and Kandie said Praise Allah. Remember we have not had a proper shower in 4 days and only 1 proper toilet. Another bush camp with no shower and no toilet at Palmrya. ( That night 12 Bedowins visited us over 4 visits for tea up until 11 pm) At our wits end by Palmyra three of us decided to take a hotel in Damacus and today are happily enjoying the simple comforts of hot water, towels, toilet paper and clean laundry. Tomorrow (5/9) we have a day trip to Lebanon and then after another "luxurious" night at our hotel, we leave Damascus for Jordan and 3 nights of bush camping. We're more than half way through this trip!
PS Last night we went frtom the hot desert of Palmyra to the cold foggy heights of an ancient castle and put up our tents in gale-force winds among camels and stray dogs....but that's another story!
Bye for now and hope this goes through!
Gail and Kandie