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05/02/11 –Damascus Departed

March 5, 2011

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A night in a dorm is a lottery of sorts, as you can never anticipate the type of company you will be sleeping next to. Last night was no exception, with a couple making out for the best part of the night forcing me to turn the volume up in my headphones to drown them out.  All being said, I had a good night’s sleep and savoured my final night in a bed for some time.

I enjoy a lengthy breakfast chat with Cedric, a French cyclist who has recently completed 10,000 km touring the coast of the Mediterranean. His rig is a spitting image of Mathias – mountain bike with bob trailer – so much so I thought Mathias had turned up in the hotel and grown some longer hair! Even their accents were identical (well, French)

I take a quick cheap lunch at the falafel stand round the corner, and depart on my way, bound for Am Nabk and Deir Mar Musa, about 100km north of Damascus. The road out of Damascus is not so bad; until I get out of the city then it becomes totally dominated by unsympathetic juggernauts. I decide to take the smaller road that runs next to the highway, not realizing that this is actually a service road for all the goods vehicles that are too slow to take the highway. I get a lot of frantic waves, to which I frantically wave back until I realize they are telling me to get the hell of the road – its only 2 lanes and the lorries come hurtling past with excruciating proximity that forces me off the road more than once. I end up camping between this service road and the highway, right on the edge of a military zone. The camp spot is well hidden behind some shrubbery, but it makes for a noisy night as the traffic is relentless on all sides. Not the best start to the solo travel. However my worries are eased when I come to sit upon my new mattress that I purchased from harry before he left – it’s a thermarest type mattress and is infinitely more comfortable than the piece of foam I tolerated all these months. My joy is squashed again rather suddenly though when I realize my brand new stove is broken, and has leaked gas all over my clothes. Bread and marmite for dinner then.

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