Sunday, September 10, 2006

9/10: A little bit about cars

I once wrote to a bunch of friends that Aleppo has an exceptional car culture. This is only one of the beauties, if you like old cars that is. There're so many it's hard to get myself to take more pictures, because the chances to catch the latest BMW or the oldest, is 8/10. There's even American cars that you rarely see outside of car shows, easily found. If you want to see more, let me know. I can take more picture's easily, and, many of the owners love to show them off and tell you about them.

Ah! But there's also and over abundance of cheap cars in Syria, not worth much recognition, except for the fact that so many people decorate their Iranian made compacts (which sport lawn mower engines and excellent gas mileage) with Ferrari stickers and the necessary, patriotic facial symbols of a Syrian President, past or current. Here's what the locals call a "Suzuki." It's a super light golf cart masquerading as a pick-up truck. Everyone who uses this little hauling machine has at some point loaded it with ingenuity, although still with grave danger to the health of all motor vehiclists and pedestrians.

Notice the silver sticker on the windshield. It's a very popular sticker of the Syrian President.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Apamea: 09/03/06

Last week I visited the Roman ruines at Apamea, pronounced Afamea. The following pictures are just some of the pictures I took that really sunny day. Apamea is about 1 hour and a half south of Aleppo and next to some amazing foothills, resembling Colorado. Really, a friend from Boulder, CO who went along as well, also had moments when she felt like she was back home. Except that we were walking through some of the most interesting Roman ruins in Syria. Apamea has a set of columns, down its main street, that is longer than all the other sites in Syria. Many of the stones were meticulously decorated, giving me a sense that stone art is worth the trouble.
The gigantic, sun soaked columns stood out in front of a really inviting set of mountians. It seems like a great place to take a hike this Fall. I'll be checking that out later.
Apamea was one of the main centers in the region that trained elephants for war fare. You can still find their giant mollars lying around in the rubble at your feet. I heard that at one point they had 500 elephants there. Imagine 500 elephants hanging out in Boulder, CO.

If you want to see more pictures from that day, send me an email if you know it, or leave me a comment asking me too, and I'll post them on here.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Ahhh...So back for a second year of Turkish style coffee in Aleppo: 9/01/06

So its been a few weeks since I arrived from the States, via Amsterdam, to Aleppo. Many of my friends and co-workers were still on their way back to Syria when I took this picture. I was enjoying a reunion at the popular Baron Hotel and noticed these dolled-up men across the street, looking very arab and very formal. Drinking coffee and smoking tobacco out of a traditional bong without women is something a lot of guys do here, at night, after the socialy accepted curfew hours of single girls.

I was still jet-lagged when I took this night shot and couldn't keep still enough to take a clean shot. But I think it came out well enough. This is a common sight at many downtown arab-style coffee houses, although these men were at a European style hotel lounge/coffee house/restaurant

(I finally got my camera fixed in the States this summer so I'll finally have pictures. Don't be shy to recommend subjects to photograph.)

I was a little worried about coming back to Syria this summer because of Israel's war in Lebanon. Of course, as soon as I saw my good friends in Aleppo, much of any of the worry I had, went away. I quickly remembered that what I saw in the news in the States about the Middle East and Syria is misleading. The great majority of Syrians I've met or mingled with would be dissapointed about the way ordinary Syrians are portraid in American news programs. I'll write more about that later, if you're interested.

Oh, on a total aside, it is more common to see posters of Nasrallah (Head Honcho of Hezbollah) in Aleppo right now, all over town, on many a' store front and car windsheilds. Of course, it can be hard to distinguish the reasons why somoene puts a poster up of a revolutionary figure (How many times have you seen the famous bust shot of Che Guavera? Isn't it now also a watered down pop cultural symbol instead of just a memorial-esque picture of a radical?) . I believe not everyone supports Nasrallah or the Palestinian cause in the same way here, and it will be very interesting, though I'm sure uncommon, to have someone tell me a very personal and not so easily guessed reason for their representin' a popular cause.

Okay, so anyhow, I'm going to post some photos of a trip I took with a few friends to a lake outside of Aleppo's city limits, near the Turkish border. The town area is called Mdanki. It's a more beautiful and natural region than dusty Aleppo is right now, so it was a good getaway to the country side. Hope you too got away from town this past week and experienced some fresher air and a relaxing atmosphere.