Wow, mountains. They were basically the first thing that caught my eye in Syria.
Part of Damascus lies on a mountain, which turns into a sandy bare top.
You can walk all the way up–though people usually take a taxi, Waddah (?) an English professor involved in Damascus University’s international program and our unofficial guide, told us.
You just can’t go to the very top where all those poles are.
A Syrian American Northeastern student, Omar, confirmed our desire to hike the mountain was pretty strange.
Despite, we were determined–we set out for the “purple flowers” the landmark Wadah said we should begin our hike from.
Not as clear cut as from his window, once hiking, there was no clear path.
On our first attempt we skirted barb wire and were shooed by a group of men hollering in Arabic high above us. On our second a military officer climbed down from the cliffs above us.
He didn’t speak much English but his message was clear.
He pointed to the road below us and said the mountain was dangerous.
We can go up the mountain following the road? I asked.
He watched us until we were safely on the road below.
After grabbing some delicious ice cream, we headed along the road leading in a winding path up the mountain.
Apparently 4 white people walking up a hilly road was quite a spectacle.
All types of people yelled out of cars, honked and waved to us and some guys offered us a ride.
Maybe just the norm in Syria, men dressed in military clothes were everywhere.
Were they hiding something in the trees, we wondered. They popped out of the mountain to point us onward.
They told us to walk on the other side of the road and hurried us on if we loitered to take pictures.
At one point, when no one was visible, we heard a cell phone ringing from the brush beside us.
At the top a clump of cars, waiting taxis, couples, families with kids and an expansive view of Damascus greeted us.
We saw our hotel–a red light to the right. So much unexplored territory stretched out in every direction from it.
10 days is not enough to see this city.
PS– Hey NUHOC, Northeastern’s outdoor club–I thought of you guys. I hope Acadia was awesome!