Friday, January 11, 2008

amazing coincidence #4

Saturday 23rd October 2004

Palmyra is a dot in the Syrian desert.

A dot with a lot of history.

Formerly known as Tadmor, with a history dating back more than 2,000 years before even the Romans showed an interest in the region, Palmyra was also allied closely to the Decapolis which was predominantly located in the Jordan region.

ruins of palmyra

ibn ma'an castle palmyra syria

bev, ben, terry and steve

ben and bev from the castle

I arrived at this dot during Ramadan, and pretty much had the place to myself.
(Well I did have Ben, Bev and Steve who I'd picked up en-route for company)

After checking into hotel ‘The New Afqa’ (I didn’t ask what happened to the old one) and being satisfied that the water in the bathroom was hot enough to make tea with, I left my backpack and ventured out into the main street for lunch.

There was a choice of two restaurants in town so I selected the one that showed some semblance of sentient life within.

The owner, a slightly sweaty and overweight Arab who was nevertheless charming and effusive, bustled about my pavement table sweeping off the sand and laying out the menu and cutlery, all the while smiling and ever so slightly bowing. I figured trade was a little slow.

After giving my order, the owner deposited 3 large volumes on my table for me to browse whilst waiting for my lunch. They were visitors’ books.

Normally I don’t bother with these as they are usually full of either ingratiatingly fatuous comments about how ‘utterly gorgeous’ and ‘simply superb’ the food/waiter/restaurant/salmonella was - or contain obscene genitally inspired sketches.

But out of boredom I picked up one and fanned its pages in my face to give me at least some respite from the hot dry wind that was blowing.

Suddenly my eyes fell on an entry.

It was made by a friend of mine from The University of NSW back in Sydney (I was there in the early stages of my PhD) who had visited Palmyra the December before. I had no idea she had even been in the Middle East or Syria, let alone Palmyra.

Aussies - you can’t get away from them.

visitor's book

terry in palmyran restaurant

1 comment:

Ginny said...

Terry you inspired me to try to blog while os in Jan. I really enjoyed doing it and was able to keep in touch without fear that I was boring the unwilling to death. It made me realise how much more interesting your travels were than mine but I was not in such an exotic local I excuse myself.