Saturday, 9 August 2008

Pilgrimage from Arrawda to Tartus 04/08/08

Feeling good when I wake I take my time getting ready and head down to the restaurant for breakfast. It seems like every time I eat my body needs to shut down to cope, as soon as I'm back in my room I'm flat on my back in bed :( Luckily it only lasts a short while and it isn't long before I'm back on the road.

Winding my way around the coast there is always an offer for tea or coffee waiting to be accepted. I walk, rest, walk, rest until I hit the highway and decide to walk the last 15kms along it. Without the distraction of all the people and with the road going directly there I'm sure I can make Tartus by a decent hour.

One thing I have noticed about Syrians is they only have a very vague concept of time and space. While living in Damascus I would regularly want to meet with a Syrian friend for a drink. I turn up at the appointed time, say 3pm, and knowing they were going to be late order straight away. Thirty minutes later they are nowhere to be seen so I call...

"Hi, are you far away?"

"Aaaaah, Ben! No, no, give me ten minutes I'm on my way..."

I order another drink and after thirty minutes call back...

"Aaaaah, Ben! Wait, wait! I will call you back in five minutes..."

I order another drink and after thirty minutes call back...

"Aaaaah, Ben! Sorry, something has come up. Can we meet tomorrow?"

"Okay, sure"

"Great, same time?"

Now it's this last part that makes me realize we are living in two completely different realities. What exactly do they mean by "same time"??? I take it to mean somewhere between 15:00-16:30 and maybe not at all, that way there is never any confusion ;)

The reason behind this story is because the distance signs to Tartus follow a similar tale. I pass a sign saying "Tartus 10kms" and two kilometers later get another sign saying "Tartus 10kms". I walk six kilometers then get a "Tartus 1km", five hundred meters later a "Tartus 2km" then two hundred meters past that a "Tartus 4km"!

Now, if these signs were advertisements or home-made I could understand but they are all official, normal looking road signs. Surely the guy who stuck the "Tartus 2km" sign in would look up, see the "Tartus 4km" sign and think...

"Hmmmmm, maybe this is slightly out of place..."

The four kilometer sign must have been right and I stagger into Tartus feeling exhausted. I managed the last 10kms without a break and now I'm feeling it. Deciding to eat at the first restaurant I come to it turns out I'm getting a greasy hamburger for lunch. Not the best thing for my dodgy stomach but I figure maybe introducing some more nasty critters down there isn't such a bad idea. You never know, maybe they will wipe themselves out fighting for supremacy of my stomach... :)

Finding a nice little hotel I grab my camera and go to check out the old city. Luckily it's only 200m down the road because there is absolutely nothing to see! Still craving spaghetti I go from restaurant to restaurant and finally locate some goodness. Just what I need!

The atmosphere is great! Sitting on the street facing the Mediterranean sipping cocktails, it's the perfect place to relax and catch up on some writing...

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