February 28: Smoothies and Tuna


It was a long day full of first impressions.

Before the Sleep:

1. Nice employee at the airport offers me his mobile for a call.
2. Audra and Omar pick me up at 3am - shukran!
3. As we stay up chatting into the wee hours of the morning, I hear my first ever call to prayer, the chanting blaring over the loudspeakers throughout the city.

After the Sleep:

1. Mutabal and fresh grapefruit juice: dinner with Audra and Meredith in the Old Town. Mmmmm!
2. Hospitality: Omar's mom serves us tea in her home. Then we (the 'kids') go for smoothies. I drink them all the time and can confidently tell you that Syria is home to the world's best. There are smoothie stands everywhere; they have perfected the art. There is also no fast food, unless you count falafel. It is impossible not to eat well here!
3. Body-building: Driving out to the villa that night, stories aplenty from a guest who used to train with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's not everyday you get to learn everything you ever wanted to know about building muscle.

First Impressions:

1. Creative driving: over the white lines, tailgating and lanechanging like players in a bad video game. Road markers mean squat. Organized chaos? There is everything but cattle in the streets, and that wouldn't surprise me either.
2. W-a-i-t-i-n-g: The concept of time is different here. When the businessmen come home, the women move to a different room. And wait. When Omar has to fix his hair? We wait. And when the men just disappear 'to get a tuna sandwich', leaving two blondes in a villa pool to be mistaken for Russian prostitutes, we wait! Five minutes in Syria is never five minutes. We were waiting for Godot. We were waiting for peace in the Middle East.
3. Feel me: Hip hop music is really, really popular here. Wanna' go cruisin' for a bruisin'?