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16/02/11 – Enduring the Syria exit saga

March 5, 2011

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When you approach the time to leave a country, you start to long for the border. I have had the most fantastic and memorable time in Syria, but by now I was ready to leave. The bad weather and the boring roads were a big factor in this. Today was no exception, and the border couldn’t come fast enough.

Though fast it definitely wasn’t. Another slow day defined by the fact that Debasiye was not a border crossing. I found this out from the local police, who told me it had been closed for 30 years (what a great map I had that told me otherwise) I had to cycle 65 km to Qamishli to cross the border. I was prepared for this so it was no problem. The problems arose when I got on the road, and the rain and the headwind made it a four hour journey. Add into the equation the tail I had during the whole road, and it made it quite an uncomfortable ride.

The tail I think was because the road was literally on the border between Syria and turkey. The guys in the car couldn’t speak English of course but waved their hands in a manner that it was no problem, I should just go to Qamishli. When I asked them if they were police they said no. I was a little miffed – and rather uncomfortable. There was no problem though. They even gave me food to keep me going. As I reach Qamishli, they disappeared, obviously content that I wasn’t going to jump the border… odd.

The border post was chaos. People were clambering over each other to get their passports to the tired and very bored looking border police. People were even climbing over the barriers to get their passports to the front of the queue. I pushed my way in, waved my British passport (everyone else was waving theirs) and immediately the officer stopped what he was doing and gave me preferential treatment. It was great – though I guess it was less that I was British and more to do with the fact that I wasn’t Syrian or Turkish, therefore giving the poor guy something more interesting to do, albeit for 5 minutes.

Before long I was through customs and in turkey. It was great to be back. The familiarity had set in from the previous time – the food, the money, and the road signs. I cycled my way downhill towards Mardin beaming with happiness and triumph.

I didn’t quite make it to Mardin that night but camped up just short of it behind an abandoned tanker on the side of the road. Perfect.

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