Travel Log Part 2

Before I write a little about Syria and my experiences thus far in Lebanon, I wanted to tell you about one other thing I witnessed in Turkey. I was there during the Turkey-Czech game where Turkey was down 2-0 and was facing elimination when it scored 3 goals in the last 15 minutes to advance. The celebrations were justifiably out-of-control. One thing, however, annoyed me a bit (well, that one thing and all the flags).  On the news they interviewed one of the celebrating fans and he said something like: “This just shows that when the Turk is determined, nobody can stop him.”  Nationalism and its myths are indeed annoying.  In my opinion, Turkey scoring 3 goals in the last minuate meant nothing more than the fact that they played well and exploited the momentum well.  And when Turkey lost to Germany, it didn’t mean that “The Turk” wasn’t “determined” but that the German team had more talent, or had a better coach, or whatever.

Anyway, I was in Damascus for a shorter while than in Istanbul but I nevertheless enjoyed my stay there immensely. While in Istanbul, I was reminded of Iran a lot, but when I was in Syria, I thought of Iran all the time. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that there were hundreds of Iranian pilgrims there to visit Zainab’s shrine.  Near the shrine compound is a small cemetary where Dr. Ali Shariati, the Iranian revolutionary ideologue, is buried. I love Shariati and it was a blessing to be able to go to his humble tomb.

Shariati’s tomb was also a destination site for many Iranian pilgrims. The Iranian tour guides would bring them there but as I sat there listening to the visitors, I realized that not many of them knew who he was, as some of them explained to each other that he was simply a great Islamic thinker. There was a lot of writing on the tomb and one of them read in Persian: “Shariati motor-e Engelaab-e Iran bood” (Shariati was the engine of revolution) which I thought was very interesting.

Anyway, every local I talked to, like in Istanbul, expressed nothing but disdain for Israel and they admired Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad greatly.  It’s prudent to note here what I said in the post below: my experiences in these countries do not represent the countries’ entire populations. They just represent who I’ve spoken with and what they’ve been willing to share with me.

What else? When I first arrived in Damascus, I had to go through passport control. It was funny to see the guard react to my American passport. He looked at it, then looked at me, then looked at it again, then at me again, then he showed it to his co-worker sitting with him inside the booth, then I got a bit nervous and began to sweat 🙂 and then he asked me about my origins, to which I said I am Iranian. He then said “America baaaaad, Iran goooooooood” and stamped my passport. haha. Nevertheless, all the people I came in contact with were nothing but friendly and welcoming.

I’m not religious at all, but I was at the great Omayyad Mosque during Friday prayers and it was a great experience to be there with so many people in such a huge mosque. The amens at the end of the sermon just echoed throughout the mosque.

Next time, I will tell you about the hassle of getting into Beirut through Damascus.

In Peace,


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