Welcome to the A-Z Guidebook Link Up. If you would like to join, read the A-Z Guidebook tab at the top of the blog and write a travel post relating to the letter of the month.
*For those who know me well, they would tell you that I had this blog post planned and written for some months. Well before the recent incidents on that Turkish beach and in Hungary. The post is not meant to be sensationalist or to ride on the coat tails of current events. This is simply a post about a lovely moment I experienced whilst travelling in Syria.
Thanks to all the bloggers who have been joining in. Try to take the time to visit some of the other blogs and see what others have to share. This month:
D or Drive
Syria has (had?) one of the grandest bazaars of them all. Al-Hamidiyah Souq is located in the walled old city centre of Damascus, generally considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.
The desire to visit famed Bakdash Ice Cream Salon in Damascus was the trigger to organise an entire holiday through the Middle East. The main arcade in the souq is covered with an enormous vaulted iron ceiling. Beautifully ornate, it has rusted away in places, allowing the sunlight to stream in via pin prick holes. Shops in the main arcade are highly prized due to the number tourists that pass through on their way to the adjoining Citadel. This is reflected in the type of goods on offer which are targeted at visitors rather than locals.
A series of alleys fan out from the main arcade and it is these alleys that are the real heart and soul Al-Hamidiyah. There is the spice souq, gold souq, an area for ironmongers and one for carpenters, several hammams including one founded in the 12th century, tea and coffee houses. As you walk in deeper, the crowds thin and the noise reduces. This is where people live, laundry hanging from lines drilled into the ancient walls, DIY brickwork, grandmothers sitting on front steps enjoying the sun like they do the world over. As I wandered along, admiring the heavy wooden doors and wondering if anyone had heard of a building code, I spotted this pair.
On their way to school for the afternoon after returning home for lunch, this young boy was protectively holding the hand of his little sister as he led her along the laneways. They wore the requisite dust coat that every school child in Syria has, to protect their street clothes from wear and tear. Giving a shy ‘hello’ to me as I passed them, I turned to ask if I could take their photo. They smiled, nodded and posed. I took the shot and then shared it with them on the screen. The light was wrong with the sun behind them but this is one of my most treasured photos of my trip to Syria. Another quick smile, they continued on their way and I did the same. Not long after I took this photo, the civil war began. I think of these children often. As I write this piece, I have a heavy heart. What has happened to them? Did they survive the conflict? Are they safe or in a refugee camp or, did they die? I’ll never know the answer of course but I hope for the best and am glad I had the opportunity to share a moment with them.
Another favourite photo from Al-Hamidiyah that I have used often on my blog is of a gentleman sitting in the middle of an alley in the spice souk, carefully sorting walnuts. Sticking to the A-Z Guidebook one photo rule, I couldn’t include it in this post but using ‘organiser’s prerogative’, if you’d like to take a look, it’s at the bottom of this post.