Apparently some bad stuff has happened in Syria recently. I hope that those I met and who helped me so memorably on my ride through the country are doing O.K. – but then they’re the probably the lucky ones, living in the rural regions rather than the political hot-spots.
Of all of the Arab nations I rode through, Syria was my favourite. The hospitality was so enthusiastic that I was once physically dragged to the family home of a passing motorcyclist, hanging on to my handlebars for dear life – I was lucky to escape the following morning at all as they demanded I stay a second night!
Bicycle travel is often about knocking preconceptions on the head. Rather than a barren desert, Syria in January was rainy and cold. It wasn’t long before I got sick of the weather and headed inland – where I did indeed find a barren desert, as well as a mountain of Roman ruins, though entirely unmolested by the tourist hordes of Rome itself.
It was a real struggle to head back to the coastal regions, where it was still cold, damp and foggy. If only neighbouring Iraq hadn’t been off-limits…