I’m pretty fed up to have to head home without seeing Palmyra, there just isn’t time after a delay in Istanbul on the way out and awkward timings for connections on the way back which mean leaving early.
I feel like I just got here and have to turn right around – I have just got here.
The only option is the night bus from Damascus back up to Aleppo, then catch a bus over the border at five in the morning. It’s not the prettiest journey.
In Aleppo they say there are no buses today, I must take a taxi. Damn.
Then I get the chance to speak to a Ba’athist. He’s in his early twenties and tells me about weekly meetings reading about politics and international affairs. All his friends go too, he says. He reckons Syria is not like the US where people aren’t political and only care about their jobs and their families. ‘I care about my community’ he hedges, in answer to my questions about choice of party.
I ask him if he sees a lot of tourists pass through this way. This after someone comes in asking the route to Baghdad. His face quakes. I know he’s hearing ‘terrorists’ rather than ‘tourists’. We laugh really hard once he realises the misunderstanding.
‘Tell me’, he says, ‘is it true in Britain people hate the Arabs and the Syrians?’