Ive now been in Damascus for over a week and have got a feel for what life is like here. It all started when I was in the shared taxi from Beirut. I had explained to the girl next to me that I normaly dont stay in hotels and that my budget wouldnt allow paying 40$ a night which is the minimum here. She then suggested me to come and stay with her family, an offer that I am so glad that I accepted.
Nastia and her grandmother blbl at her overcrowded public school
Their home was small with only one bedroom that they insisted on giving me. The daughter, mother and grandmother all stayed on couches and matresses in the living room. I became a part of their family, taking the daughter to school, joining in on the cooking and reading bed time stories before tooth brushing in the evenings.
The mother, who I had met in the taxi was a dancer who took me to her rehersals and shows with Syrian traditional music, dance and drama. All for free.
My host Noura on the left
Their friends became my friends, some that I met at the dance shows and rehersals. I started coming to rehersals for modern dance groups as well, and people would ask to show me around the city and invite me for street food and pastries along the way.
Before the war this street would probably been crowded with people
I noticed a flag on the ground and realized that it was put there so that people would step on it.
Staying with locals give you an insight into what life is like at the places you visit. The impression a lot of people back home has about Syria is that it is a war zone, but the truth is much more diverse. Life here in Damascus is tough. There are not enough jobs, people drive old cars and make very little from honest work, but there are no fightings in the streets, on the contrary you see kids playing and laughing, people meet up for beers, coffees and shisha smoking. To be honest it feels as safe as any other city in Asia. I hope that more people will come here to realize this.
Syria needs the help of the International community to get back on its feet, and tourism is one way we as individuals can contribute.
This Rolex shop has seen better days