|Thursday 24th May - Stria - Damascus to Jordan - Amman
Our final morning in Syria. Today we left Damascus and headed towards the Jordanian border.
Some closing thoughts about Syria
We were made to feel very welcome. People often shouted Welcome! as we drove past. Lots of people wanted to speak to us or to the children. People also said to us Thank you for visiting Syria I found that quite touching, as if they were grateful to us for not being afraid of them.
We have met many French tourists. Probably 80-90% of the tourists weve seen have been French. There is an historic link between Syria and France of-course.
Toilet facilities have in general been very clean, usually with a choice of sit or squat variety.
Food has also been very good. Their meze dishes are very tasty as are their kebabs. It is also possible to get plain food (such as chicken and rice), which has been good for the children.
For the sake of the kids we have chosen not to eat salads, uncooked vegetables or unpeeled fruits from now on. The children have been very flexible about food, they arent fussy eaters.
Anyway, getting out of Damascus was the most difficult part of our drive to Amman. There was a big pre-election demonstration on, which meant that several major roads were closed to all traffic and this was being enforced by friendly, smiling men carrying large automatic weapons. We have seen hundreds and hundreds of election posters all for the same candidate, the existing president, President Assad. To us, a demonstration would be against the status quo but todays demonstration in Damascus was a pro-Assad demonstration. There was a similar event on in Hama when we were there.
The rest of the journey to Jordan was uneventful. The border-crossing took about an hour and a half. The immediate impression of Jordan is of increased prosperity when compared with Syria. We arrived at a hotel in the Shmeisani area of Amman at about 3.30pm. The hotel isnt great, but its in a nice part of town.
During our time in Syria, and now in Jordan, we have seen many people walking around arm-in-arm or holding hands. These friendly couplings are rarely a male and a female they are far more commonly two men or two women. Weve seen 2 boys of about 14 walking down the street holding hands. It seems very odd to us. Today, when we were searching for a hotel, Andrew stopped to ask a security guard where to find the entrance to one hotel. The man was keen to help, so he took Andrews hand and they walked off holding hands like a couple of four-year olds. I watched, laughing from the car, wishing Id had the camera handy! As Andrew said later, when a man carrying a big gun asks to hold your hand you dont argue.
After booking into the hotel we went to a nearby Burger King. (I know its an awful thing, but it had a great indoor play area, so we ordered coffees and the girls played). One final thing that we needed to repair the rooftop storage bag is a better strap with a ratchet-thing to attach the bag more securely and easily to the roof. While we were in Burger King, Andrew went up to ask the all-male staff about where in Amman he could buy such a thing. The whole restaurant virtually ground to a halt. About 8 guys crowded round Andrews map discussing and arguing where Andrew should go. They were extremely keen to help. Finally they decided that the delivery guy would go with Andrew in the Landcruiser and take him to get one. So I took the kids to the nearby, excellent playpark while Andrew and the Burger King delivery guy drove through Amman for an hour or so, trying a couple of places before securing the perfect ratchet-strap-type thingy. I dont think youd get quite that level of service from Burger King in the UK (mind you, there may well have been some dissatisfied customers in Amman awaiting the delivery of their burgers).