Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Viva La Nicotine Patch

At around 10 am on the 6th of February, with a nicotine patch on my back, my dad and I standing at Bath Spa Coach Station, waiting for the 403 National Express service to Heathrow. A couple hours later and a couple of hours early for our flight we arrived at the airport. After the metal detectors, a passport control guy took a look at my passport, asked me where I was heading, I told him that I was on my way to Baghdad. In turn, he said 'that's a dodgy place to go' and asked if it is as it seems on tv. I'm still unsure whether he's implying that it is I or Baghdad that is dodgy.

Since my return from London, I've had a cold and have been having trouble with my left ear. It's blocked. But that was just annoying since I had to sometimes tell my dad to speak louder so that I can hear him sometimes, until, the plane had to land and the pain in my ears from the change of pressure was multiplied by ten. The lay-over in Athens was only 2 hours for which
I'm grateful, since on the way to the UK it was something like 6 hours.

I arrive in our cheap hotel on Hamra St. in Beirut and sleep for 24 hours. Get out of bed and finally leave the hotel room to get something to eat at around 3 am. Later that day, we a cab picks up to take us to Damascus. We would've preferred to leave at night, but snow on the roads would've meant that the roads would've been closed.

10pm we leave Sayadet Zeineb in a cab that had no heating and instead blankets which we were to use while waiting in the queue outside the iraqi borders in no man's land. The Iraqi borders usually open at 7 am which is a real inconvenience, since it creates a very tight time window through which to travel since it's dangerous to make the last stretch of the trip which passes through Fallujah and Ramadi at night. Thus causing alot of congestion at the time the borders open. And as a result of this congestion you'd be lucky to make it to Baghdad that same day.

I woke up at around 11 am, and it seemed we hadn't moved at all since we queued up 7 hours ago. The borders had remained closed while I was asleep. And we were told that they were to remain closed for 5 days. We stuck around for a few more hours just in case the border folk change their mind. But after all the cars in the queue had left so did we.

Upon returning to Damascus dad took us to a hotel that he had used to stay at when he was a little kid with my grandpa in the center of town called Hotel Omar Khayyam, but in grandpa's days it used to be called something like the Omayyid Hotel I think.

I've just taken my first walk through Damascus. Which I'm glad I've done since this is the 4th time I've passed through this city. Now I know there's nothing to see, and I want to go home. Tomorrow I might be off to Amman and wait it out there, it all depends on Dad I guess.

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