Monday, March 3, 2008


Unlike life in the Nepali countryside there are several forms of entertainment in a city like Damascus. Already this week revealed some of these….

Here the weekend starts on Thursday afternoon and what a perfect start; I went with 5 female colleagues to the Hammam (Turkish bath) for three hours of steam, Jacuzzi, scrubbing, massage and lots of gossip – ending the evening at a cozy little restaurant with good food and wine (something that can be hard to find in this city).

Friday night we went to the Opera – yes, there is an opera house here. We saw Carmen, and though I must admit that the Carmen I saw in Buenos Aires was of a different quality, it was worth the trip. To finish the experience with a touch of sweetness we stopped by at the Benetton CafĂ© for cheese cake….

With one day left of the weekend we decided to get out of Damascus to go and visit a small monastery 80 km. north of the city. Rural Syria quickly revealed the great issue of water shortage in the country the landscape was little more than dry, brown dessert with small half-dead bushes. Occasionally, a small house or village emerged from the dust.

The monastery was rather isolated and well hidden about 1 mile up a mountain side, it was a bit of a hard walk up there. It was abandoned in the 1900 century but has recently been restored and has been turned into a bit of a tourist attraction. It is possible to come and stay there for as long as liked, participate in the services or just hang out and talk. The price is nothing more that a bit of help with the cooking and cleaning! It was a mixed group of visitors including nuns, school children and the mandatory dreadlocked backpacker, the guy with the guitar and the hot chick that sings away and fascinates everyone on the mountain.

Yes, quite the weekend...