Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sadness for Syria . . .

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It is hard for me to imagine that just a few short years ago we traveled to Lebanon, and then from there set out to discover some of Syria, visiting the Krak des Chevaliers, Hama, Homs, Aleppo, Palmyra, and Damascus, before returning to Beirut. We had an unforgettable time in Syria. The hospitality was honest, the people we met in shops, restaurants, hotels, and museums seemed sincerely pleased to see tourists like ourselves, as there rather obviously were not a lot. We had entire museums to ourselves, which was a treat.
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So it is with considerable horror these days that I read the stories of current events in Syria. One of the highlights of our trip was the time spent in Aleppo, which is now the site of a major battle between government and rebel forces. When we were there the only aggressive behavior observed was on the part of certain taxi drivers vying for position. Today these streets are raked with machine gun fire, rocket propelled grenades, artillery and tank shells raining down. The horror, the horror.
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Why is it that humans still cannot settle their differences after all these thousands of years of civilization without resorting to bestial brutality ?
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Taxis abounded in Aleppo; and on the heights farther up the street here stands the ancient Citadel, where some parts of the ruins date back to the third millennium BC.
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The Citadel walls...
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Main entrance to the Citadel... (our daughters have grown a bit since then !)
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Even five years ago I was photographing lions...
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Ruins within the Citadel walls...
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If anyone out there has the skills to translate the Arabic text here, I'd love to know what it says.
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Am wondering how many of the buildings visible from the Citadel heights are already in ruins today ?
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Another regal lion...
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A magic lantern ? Make a wish for the end of madness...
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The souk in Aleppo was well worth a visit, it goes on and on, with an amazing array of goods for sale.
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Syrian soap is famous the world over...
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Would love to know what the note on the windshield said...
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This was the view from our hotel window in the morning, before we left Aleppo and took the road across the desert to Palmyra. Satellite dishes everywhere! Guess they were hungry for news from outside the borders. May they one day soon live in peace again.
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PS Am adding this post so soon after the last one (for a change) as am going to be on vacation for the next three weeks, and will probably be blogging even less than usual, and wanted to publish these photos from Aleppo before I left. Best wishes to all...
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13 comments:

AVY said...

It's really sad, I don't know what to think. Mankind never changes, even when there is so much history to learn from.


/Avy

http://mymotherfuckedmickjagger.blogspot.com

Steve said...

The human tragedy gets worse the more people keep their eyes closed or focused elsewhere...

Pastelle said...

Une très belle série, émouvante.
Ca fait mal pour eux.
Et j'ai fait un voeu à la lanterne.

Gwen Buchanan said...

thank you for this Owen, you have experienced a culture that most of us never will. a feeling of ancientness and grimness..( probably not real words)..hidden beauty and desperation... I wish release for the people who dwell there.

temporal rooms said...

you add a consciousness to all of us Owen with a post like this. i have
heard on the news again about Syria's trouble,it is sad very sad but to see photographs of this beautiful place and how it looked not so long ago takes it closer to the bone. such times we live in.
thank you for this post Owen and have a great trip. my best to you all.

~robert

Oakland Daily Photo said...

Thanks for these lessons about Syria before the conflict. I'm afraid I fear the worst for Aleppo's citizens.

louciao said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
louciao said...

Hearing a Syrian father quoted on a recent radio news broadcast brought the reality and horror of the situation there deep into my consciousness and heart. I won't describe what pain he had suffered, or that of his young daughter but I was just horrified and stunned with disbelief. And yet, such wars continue to rage in various parts of the world while we go on blissfully, and thankfully, ignorant. Your photos of a quieter time just underline the madness. Having been to the very location where the insanity is now raging, you must be reeling with disbelief and grief. Is warring genetically encoded in (some) men I wonder. I wish it could be bred out.

The Sagittarian said...

I know our city has been ruined but it seems even worse to see the type of ruin created by man against man. Happy holidays to you.

Stickup Artist said...

These images stand in such stark contrast to the images coming out of the very same place today. It is frightening how the will for power and control culminates in so much destruction and suffering. We are quite a species, we humans. Our capacity for empathy is our best feature, and when that capacity is diminished, we are doomed...

Amanda said...

how fortunate you were to be able to travel in this fascinating place - it's desperately sad that all hell has broken loose there.

Pat Tillett said...

Yes, it's very sad. I'm sure even more so for those of you that have experienced it in a better time. The Citadel is amazing!
GREAT photographs Owen...

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

Hello Owen, I too have been remembering those genial open-hearted people of Syria with despair. We were lucky - you and I - to have seen it in a time of peace. How ironical to be shown the bullet holes in the walls of Hama, with the belief that such strife as the Government directed Massacre of 1982 was past history.
But your photos bring back wonderful memories of a world between old and new, hot springs, bubbling with wild flowers in remote places, roads that doubled as aircraft runways, a hail storm finding its way into the depths of Crac de Chevalier, sketching a new-to-me flower growing high in the Citadel at Allepo, the bank teller sharing his lunch - ah zatar - as we drew currency, my husband playing the oud with some musicians who were hanging out in the theatre at Palmyra, oh yes, and those Yank tank taxis! Stil, neither can I dismiss the unease of watching school boys at their morning drill - with guns in hand...