Monday, May 24, 2010

Exploring ruins, with children.

Traipsing around ruins isn't quite the same once you have children, but it's still fun. One of the things I've always loved about the ruins in Syria is that they are completely open to be explored. Nothing is roped away or blocked off or forbidden. You just go where you please - only watch out for that ancient well hole, mmmkay?

Obviously that's a little trickier when you have a 4.5- and a 1.5-year-old exploring right along with you. We visited the ruins of the ancient cities of Qanawat and Shahba today, and managed to do so without anybody falling down a well (or, as was more likely, a tomb shaft). And even though we couldn't go quite at the pace we used to when it was just the two of us, it was fun to explain what we were seeing and exploring to Miriam in a way she could understand. I think we all got more out of the experience as a result.

Some facts and figures first, and then some pictures (let's hope they come through).

Total number of separate modes of transportation we took: Seven (taxi, servees, Happy Jerny bus, taxi, Happy Jerny bus, Pullman bus, Pullman bus, taxi).

Things that were offered to us for free: A ride from Suweida to Qanawat, a ride from the center of Suweida to the bus station, a light jacket in Miriam's size, some chips, and some cotton candy.

Things that we actually accepted for free: Both free rides and the cotton candy.

Centuries in which the two sites of ruins we visited were built: First century (Qanawat) and third century (Shahba).

Number of methods of smoking that are prohibited in Qanawat: Four, apparently.

What we bought for a total of one dollar at a snack stand in Qanawat: Five separate snack items, a bottle of strawberry milk, and a 1.5L bottle of water. I still can't get over it.

One note to explain the crazy transportation - in a place where public transportation is neither accessible nor cheap (ahem, Jordan), we usually have to hire someone to drive us around to multiple sites. Here in Syria, public transportation is king. For the four of us, for a whole day of traveling to multiple sites all over the Hauran region, we paid a total of 571 lira. That's $11.42. I KNOW. Even if those kind souls who gave us free rides had insisted on being paid, it would only have been two or three dollars more. Amazing.

OK, one more thing about the transportation. One thing I love about taking public transportation is that you are absolutely taken care of. On our way from Damascus to Qanawat, we had about six fellow passengers discussing amongst themselves and the driver the best way for us to get to where we needed to go. They weren't about to let us just get dropped off at the bus station, completely disoriented. Oh, dear goodness, no. Together, they worked out a plan for us and then made sure we followed it. It was wonderful.

Here goes with the pictures. I have a few dozen but let's try only two since they're not working so well.


Liz Johnson said...

Ok, is that a bong in the third no-smoking picture?!

NICE. I am so jealous. First and third century!? SWEET.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I thought that 3rd picture was a hubbly bubbly.

Love this post. Exploring with children is a lot of fun when they are old enough to understand & appreciate what they see. Even though Meme is young I think she's got an explorer's spirit.

Kathy Haynie said...

I am following your posts and loving them. Even though you don't know me, and this probably seems pretty random. I am fascinated with your adventures! Thank you for posting and sharing.

FeistyHistoryGal said...

I am impressed with the constant theme of kindness from your travels. Where I am sure you meet the unkind and wicked, it seems the people just want to help you! I wish we saw more of those stories here in the West.

Shannan said...

you were the first one to introduce me to the more pleasant aspects of middle eastern culture as I am totally in the American bubble of "middle east = bad". So I really truly love and enjoy your stories and adventures. Thank you.

Julie said...

That looks like so much fun- I bet Derek would love exploring ruins!


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