11 may Hama (SYRIA)

The deteriorating state of the various archaeological sites reigns supreme. Besides the garbage you saw in each corner, I saw kids walking down the street and throw the papers of the ice cream that they were eating on the ground with so much ease that shocked me ...

I could say the same for the rocky desert plain we crossed to reach the enlightened Hama. A plain with plastic bags everywhere... they were horribly, locked in the bushes or rocks or even transported in the air by the wind... looking at that I could not help but reflecting on the bad conditions of our planet and if in the West we can still camouflage it, in such places it's too obvious!

I did not expect to find so much Christian influence here, even the gospel tells about the "Conversion of St. Paul on the way to Damascus ..." here explained the many monasteries and Christian Orthodox churches ...
I admit that I did not expect, just as it has been bad to see a nation that, while allows a great freedom to the modern woman, so as to enable the use of Western clothes and sometimes even the luxury of not having to hide their hair under the veil, it does not allow the use of facebook...
I remember it was quite embarassing when in an internet point in Damascus, asking an explanation from the guy that runs it, he coyly replied: "We are not allowed!"


"Crack of the Knight "is a castle dating from the time of Saladin, but too similar to the fortress of Kerak in Jordan. Both very large, poorly maintained and abandoned.
I imagined how many events could have been organized in such a place: exhibitions, cultural performances rather than a sad, dirty and smelly "house" where people pissed in the dark and hidden corners...

After a long transfer a bright Hama welcomes us with the famous "Norie Bechriyyat" (big wheels similar to those of the mills)!
we wander and enter into the stalls selling plants and flowers where the body of President Bashir Assad was omnipresent, we hear the sound coming from a tent, a bit like the sirens of Ulysses, but in contrast to the epic hero we follow it...

We enter and set foot inside the tent, suddenly we find ourselves stepping back in time ...
They seemed artists of the 30s or 40s who appeared to an audience of some little Syrian family who was laughing when we clown dwarfs took a barrel and took offense when a mime imitating a couple who kissed...

The show, against all odds, was great... Acrobats, clowns, magicians, jugglers, acrobats, even a woman (super blanket) that made the stunts!
Sweet scene of a little girl, that admiring the clowns, suddenly turns to Barbara and offers her some popcorn from her bag!
Or the two Muslim women who were trying to communicate in Arabic with Nick pointing the camera, we feared that in some way we had disturbed or maybe they just wanted to warn us that they didn't want to be photographed ... Then they put their three children in front of us and after a fast combed asked us to photograph them!

The evening ends on a Ferris wheel that shows us the light from the city of Hama.

12 may Palmira (SYRIA)

Early in the morning we are already walking under high Roman columns, we are in Apamea ...
It 's amazing to think that the Romans have come up here, not just travelers but as great conquerors.

350 km later we welcome Palmyra and its ruins with a heat wave!
From far away, as we approached the town, the long line of Roman columns became increasingly clear ...

I admit my ignorance on the Palmyra's treasures, while Jacob praised the former glory, I, in some forgotten corner, in the shadow of the thousandth column, I used my imagination to start trying to mentally recreate everything that there could have been there...
The annals, feasts, battles of the Roman ... Indeed, I identify with a leader who came wandering the outskirts of the city guards, the governor, the maids, the life inside that place so far from Rome!

I will not talk of graves, the colonnade, the various stories that they told me but just remember the emotion of the setting sun while I was trying to capture it with my Canon ...
In those momentsI realized how fast the flow of time is?

 

 

13 may Deir ez Zur (SYRIA)

We left Palmyra pointing south while the signs continued to remind us that we were getting closer and closer to Iraq!

The landscape began to change suddenly, a rocky desert plain became the only dull background colored only by the gray strip of asphalt of the only road...

[Anna Quaranta from Rome]: "The geographical map of Syria seemed to slide under the wheels of our little white van"

With a sweltering heat (the thermometer on my watch showed 41 °) we dock at Dura Europos, an ancient fort now reduced to a heap of large stones. Some listened to the stories of Jacob with keen interest, but my imagination could not take off, that's why I left the group and reached a hill overlooking the famous river Euphrates. This river reminds me of the subsidiary of the primary school or the history of Mesopotamia, or, to cite a more recent example, the Gulf War!

We reach shortly after Mari. A Greek-Roman town dating back to 5000 years ago. I linger a bit with our driver to enjoy a mint tea in the shadow of a large tree with who looked like the village chief! I am delighted to see how their lives ran in the heat in the village anything, just 8 km from the Iraqi border!
Women and girls of the house, under their veils, were working: who was sweeping using a huge palm leaf, who mowing grass, who tending the chickens, all surronded by a horde of noisy children running and screaming everywhere!

The return trip to Deir ez Zur was very intense. From the window of my bus I watched the many fragments of their daily life pass before my eyes.
Women with huge sacks on their heads in perfect balance walking, old men with red and white kafeeyah sitting and smoking a water pipe, dirty children who work up camps ...

[Anna Quaranta from Rome]: "The journey is not simply move from A to B. It is not just to go but go with the body and return with the soul and thoughts. While traveling with the body, the soul does in purely scattered order, a journey within himself, what it has lived, loved, suffered, hated and tasted, retracing its steps several times.
In front of endless landscapes that the geography of our beautiful country can hardly give us, we get lost over the horizon and the mind is free to roam the blue of the seas and skies the brown of the desert, softened by the green oasis , by the beauty of flowers that are the balm when you think back to difficult times. And outside your own world you understand more about yourself, proving yourself, far from your points of reference.
A journey, in the journey, in the thousand endless travel. Body, soul, mind, people, places, tastes, smells, feelings, everything in absolutely freedom."

 

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