Too many funny subheadings to choose from...
Mmmm....ya might be noticing that this entry is the same day as the last one. I'm kinda behind 'cause...I'M OUT DOING STUFF! Also, I have to actually go to an internet cafe here for access.
I am currently in Syria...what I'm doing this week you'll probably hear about next week. SO, this is the story of my journey to Aleppo from Istanbul.
Somehow got up early enough to eat Turkish breakfast and sip tea at the port (believe it.). Ferry across the Bosphorous early in the morning to the train station. On the train...
I got moved into a cabin with a girl from Colorado named Jennifer. We had a sleeping berth...the train is overnight - 9am Sun to 2pm Mon per schedule. We actually arrived a little late - 9pm (partly our fault). So, 36 hours on the train. It's cool though, 'cause I dig watching scenery from trains. I'm not describing it. I have photos, but no way to upload. Maybe I'll make everyone look at them when I get home. : D
SO, Jennifer was excellent company...very funny and unstressable. We were each thinking of putting 'sunshine spreader' under 'occupation' on the Syrian entry forms. I suspect we might as well have. We were on one of two sleeper cars filled mostly with western tourists as well as a handful of Turks. We were the only Americns. There was no food or water available so we stocked up (which is very easy here since there are thousands of dried fruit and nut stands). North of the border, our sleeper cars were removed from the Turkish train and added to a Syrian engine. So, for the duration of the trip, we had exhaust billowing through the windows. Most of the passengers on our car didn't seem to notice...probably because of the extent of their smoking habits. This trip is not for the faint of lung.
So, we get to the border and everyone gets off the train to go through the usual border processing. We all have our stamped passports and are boarding the train when Jen and I are called back by the border patrol and taken into a room for more questioning. As we are answering, our train leaves. Fun. No, actually, we thought it was kinda funny. So, we make it through more questioning and are now just hanging out at the station with some border patrol guys who want to practice their English. One of the guys went and picked mint for us to chew...they were very cool. The train came back and we boarded. We flop into our cabin. Ten minutes later, the border partol is searching our stuff. I felt like kind of a hypochondriac as they went through my med kit. They couldn't believe all the meds were just for me. It's all just-in-case stuff like antibiotics, re-hydration salts, Tums. The ususal mystery food backup stuff....five months worth. So, they took some back to the station for analysis (?). A while later, they returned with what was left and let us go on our way.
We had apologies from the border guards for our trouble, visits from the other passengers to see if we were ok, and free Turkish coffee from the train stewards....mmmmmmm.....
All in all....welcomed to Syria