Back from Syria
I’m sort of back and I have a column about Syria: Smug in Damascus. It's about the upcoming presidential referendum and why these things don't matter.
The odometer on the rental car says that I travelled exactly 3999 Km within Syria.
Castles visited, all 20 of them: Shmeimis, Masyaf, Qadmous, Kahf, Khawabi, Marqab, al-Husn, Sheizer, Rusafa, Ullayqa, Mayneqa, Abu Qobeis, Saone/Salaheddin/Sahyoun, Bani Qahtan/Bani Isra’il, Harim, Ibn Wardan, Burzeh, Yahmur, Mheilebeh and Safita tower.
Major Alawi shrines visited=32 (not counting every dome I stopped at…): Nebi Younis (Jebel al-Nabi Younis), Nebi Younis (near al-Kahf castle), Sheikh Mousa al-Rabti (near Abu Qobeis castle), Nebi Metti (Jebel al-Nabi Metti), Nebi Metti (near Husn Suleiman), Muhammad bin Abdullah al-Hamidi (near Safita tower), Sheikh Mousa al-Hakim al-Fatimi (near Dreikish), Sultan Ibrahim (near Dweir Reslan), Ibn Hani (near Ras Shamra), Sheikh ‘Issa al-Yahmuri (in Yahmur), Sheikh Hamdan (in Wadi al-Qala’), Sheikh Hassan (in Dweir Ba’abda), Sheikh Ahmad Qirfays (in Qirfays), Maqam al-Khidhir (near Banyas), Sheikh Gharib (near Hraysoun), Sheikh Ali (near Snober), Abu Laith al-Kittani (near Deiretoun), Maqam al-Sheikh Isma’il (in Jobet Birghal), Al-Arba’in (near Mheilebeh castle), Ja’afar al-Tayyar/Melek Sultan (Jebel Sayyidna Ja’afar), Ja’afar al-Tayyar (hills above Rasel Baseet), Sheikh Dhahir/al-Khidhir (in Bijlaya), Sheikh Hassan Bisqini (up in Boor al-Jird), Al-Khidhir (bil Habees), Nebi Roubil (near ‘Ain al-Teeneh), Khidhir (in Rasel Baseet), Zein al-Abidin (Jebel Zein al-Abidin above Hamah), Hassan al-Makzoun (allegedly in Kefer Souseh near Damascus, used to be in Al-Kabir Mosque, removed, disputed), Sheikh Nmeir (used to be near Qal’at Sharif in Aleppo, disappeared, probably sabotaged in early 1980s), Al-Nour Mosque (near Qinnesrin Gate in Aleppo, being renovated), Ammar bin Yassir (in Raqqa, visited by Alawis too), and Hussein bin Hamdan al-Khasibi (within Hananoo barracks in Aleppo, visited on an earlier trip). Druze shrine: Nebbi Habil, near Zabadani.
So I’m showing off a bit, but here’s my take: after a while, all castles begin to look alike, and all shrines look (and smell) the same. I've kissed many dead saints on this trip, and not withstanding the dermatological nightmare, I kinda feel like a spiritual slut!
Plus, there were many churches on the itinerary: visited Deir Mar Gergis/Khidhr on his holy day, May 6.