July 29, 2001 – Damascus – Maaloula – Damascus




I am waken up at 7 am by the gatekeeper who is cleaning the patio. Today we decide with Gael to go to Maaloula at 60 km from Damascus (northwest) for SP 25.


When arriving in Maaloula, we immediately see this village on the hillside, the houses are very tiny and small alleys and stairs enable the inhabitants to reach their place. Some big white Christian crosses are painted on the rocks.




We visit the Saint Thecle convent where we have the opportunity to attend a mess in Aramean. Aramean is a 3,000-year-old language. It sounds like Hebrew and I am impressed to hear it knowing that Jesus Christ spoke this language and that many books of the Old Testament were written in this language. Here, there is no veil, it is a Christian village, people wear western clothes. We see a lot of Lebanese on this Sunday.


Then we follow a small canyon that has been altered by a lot of drawings, too bad. We arrive at Saint Serge convent that dominates the village from the top of the hill. The little church is sober with some icons painted in the 19th century. There is also an altar where sacrifices were made but there is no hole to evacuate the blood.


We try to hitch hike til Sednaya (26 km from there) but in 30 minutes there was only one car that doesn’t stop. We decide to come back to the village and walk through the alleys discovering houses and people. This is when we discover two pretty girls, quickly joined by 2 other ones and it is naturally that they posed for us. Nice encounter.


Maaloula : Nice encounter


We come back to the crossroad in the middle of the village waiting for a local bus to Damascus (SP 15). From the bus station, we go to the old town. On our way, we buy some delicious figs. We were walking in the streets when we stop in front of the door of Jabri House restaurant. We sat there for a while drinking some wonderful cups of teaunder the shadow of leaves and welcomed electric fans. We decide to come back tonight and have the lunch here.


In the mean time, we come back to the hotel and try to go to an Internet cafι to read mails but there is an electricity shutdown on the neighborhood. We meet there a French girl who is working for The French Cultural Center, it is the occasion to learn more about local life for a westerner and for locals. She explains us that an administrative job salary is paid SP 5,000 (100 USD), a university professor can earn 200 USD. To rent a house, you should pay SP 5,000 per month for multi rooms and a garden.


Whereas electricity doesn’t seem to come back, we go to the cultural center to read some newspapers and get in touch of what happens in the world.


Tonight it is a Jabri House menu and on our way back we meet the Polish girls bargaining for some stuffs in a shop. We end at the hotel eating some grapefruits and talking as usual.





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