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The Most Popular Person in the Mosque

July 2, 2010

…is me.  Because I have my tripod set up and I’m taking pictures.  I get mobbed by kids.  A nice young woman who speaks some English helps me by translating into Arabic, yelling at the kids: “2 meters from the camera”, “stand still”, “don’t touch the camera”, etc.  They keep budging in front of one another, trying to be the closest to the camera.  Some women hold up their babies proudly for me to take a photo.

kids in the Grand Mosque, Aleppo

kids ignoring command to stay 2m from camera

pretty lady with baby

Syria has been the most pleasant surprise of my trip so far because of the people.  They are constantly saying “welcome to Syria”.  A man who didn’t speak a word of English walked me through the bus station to the right ticket agent, and then to my bus in the jam packed station lot.  Especially when I was sitting somewhere alone, women who wanted to practice their English would come up and chat.  Outside of the touristy sites, nobody tried to sell me anything.  Ditto for bucksheesh – very rarely asked for. 

The one exception was in Palmyra which is a tourist trap, and the site doesn’t compensate for the hassle.  However, even there the hassle is mild in comparison to say Egypt.  We paid our admission to one of the temples on the Palmyra site, and a “guide” tried to accompany us for a fee.  We said we could find our own way around and showed him the map.  He said “what do you see?”  I said “umm….it looks big?”  He said no no, “look at the shape, it looks like a turtle”.  This really sold us on his guiding services.  From then on we called the ancient ruins of the city of Palmyra The Turtle.

map of Palmyra, AKA “The Turtle”

4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 2, 2010 4:35 pm

    My dearest Sariah or should we say “tripod girl”,I am sure they think you are a famous
    photographer and the pictures
    are memorable. Having a vehicle which helps you connect to the people is amazing.Your birthname in the
    Muslin culture means “star”.
    Perhaps this adventure is taking you to your true creative potential.Love to you and Jade.Auntie Lauren

    • July 2, 2010 7:12 pm

      Umm, I guess you could call me tripod girl – a great group of people I did a tour with in Africa gave me the “pulitzer prize” for religiously documenting everything – mainly due to the tripod and my journal which I try to write in every couple of days.

      Yep, in Egypt I was told Sariah, but starting with Th instead of S, means stars. In Jordan my name means something like fortress. Always something interesting.

  2. Marlene Tambre permalink
    October 3, 2010 2:28 pm

    Hello Sariah,

    First of October and we are home after a month in Europe. Just checked your blog and loved the pictures and comments, thanks for sharing. We had a great time, and even got to spend 72 hours in St. Petersburg, which was a visual feast and fun too. Looking forward to seeing you later this month.

    Love Mom

    • October 4, 2010 12:15 am

      Hi there! Good to hear all went well. And St. Petersburg – excellent! Look forward to hearing all about it.

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