On the road to Damascus


In the footsteps of Paul (Johnson, that is)

Sep 15
After a month in Amman, I was soooo ready to quit that city.  It is surely the most boring, charmless city I've visited.
So Damascus was a breath of fresh air.  For starters, much of it is relatively flat, in contrast to Amman's never-ending hills and valleys, which make casual walking a real chore.
The day after arriving I walked  in the Shaghoor district, just south of the Old City of Damascus, through a maze of narrows streets and alleys, like these


I came across a small hole-in-the-wall workshop

presided over by Anas


He does inlays, embossing, etc.  Despite the fact that his three or four words of English just about matched my repertoire of Arabic, he insisted I sit with him and take tea (it was wonderfully delicious).   




My favorite barber in Damascus.  Every time I passed his shop it was "Welcome," with a hearty thumbs up (everyone in the Middle East seems to know that word.)
So far I've eaten much better here than in Amman, largely because of the company I've kept.  David and Allison (from Australia) and Sergio (from Costa Rica) were on the same bus as I coming from Amman.  We became good friends and shared several elegant dinners (at extremely modest cost, by the way). 
Walking back through the Old City after that dinner, we ran across a group of Nigerians.  When I asked if I could photograph them, they insisted I join them.  I keep elegant company, sometimes.

Near the Iranian Cultural Center I passed a group of Iranian women, and I smiled at them.  One of them (the center one here) smiled back and waved me over.  We had a lively time of deciding who would be photographed and who wouldn't be (the group was much larger than just these).


A few days later I was walking another neighborhood and paused to watch some kids playing.  


After they saw me watching them for a minute or two, they gathered around and began performing for me


Then they all wanted to be photographed


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