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11/02/2011 – (julian solo) – Al Laqbah to Somewhere in the middle of Al Ghab

March 6, 2011
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The tent is warm and sun drenched when I awake, always a good start.  Breakfast is slow and relaxed, mornings feel amazing when the sun beats down.  Everything takes on a new essence, the tent fabric is tauter and smells different, the dry bag I  use for my sleeping bag is softer and smells better.  I have a technical victory by fixing one of my panniers once and for all, the day has started well.

Warm road winds around the bottom of hills that look like ones from Jurassic park.  I come out onto the plain, lush green fields back to back, some women in colourful head dresses are working the fields.  Cycling through towns almost every house has a circle of chairs occupied by family members in the front garden.  Its Friday, so holiday and people are using it to full effect.  It feels a bit like a sunny bank holiday in England, albeit in front gardens rather than hidden away, the air has a relaxed feel to it.  I get many offers for tea, one family calls me over and I decide to join them.  They offer me tea and food and I oblige for both.  The family is great, 5 young girls and 2 boys, one of which is in a full suit and trainers a periodically comes up to me with some building blocks, counts to 3 and then kicks them into the air, I like this kid immediately.  2 of the girls know a bit of English and I improve my Arabic with the help of their school books.  I end up sitting with the family and playing football with the kids for a few hours.  It was a truly great experience, sometimes communication doesn’t seem to work and as hard as you try there isn’t a connection, sometimes it flows smoothly and there seems to be a connection, which allows you to talk without sentences, this was definitely the latter.

They ask if I want to stay but I have to get on as I want to be in Aleppo tomorrow, it’s very sad to say goodbye, I enjoyed their company a lot, but the road beckons.  I try to ask them for their address to send them a card but they don’t have one.  I cycle off full of good feelings into the early afternoon serenaded by the frogs that live in the canal (these are the same frogs we heard on the first day in Turkey, and the family said that they eat them).

Now that I’m cycling in the valley as opposed to above it the camping opportunities in this area are well hidden.  Agriculture dominates, a few trees are left but on the whole all space is taken as it were.  I decide to cycle down one of the tracks right in the centre of fields.  There are a few buildings and I spot that one has an opening at the back.  I investigate, conscious of not getting caught and find a perfect place for my tent.  I enjoy a beer as the sun sets and the distant sound of a drum echoes against the hills.  Tent up at nightfall I listen to some Jefferson Airplane and receive a call from Yazan, the guy I met walking with his wife yesterday, he wants to know if im ok and if I need anything.  I’m fine I tell him, very well in fact.

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