Aleppo and Hama
Jul 03, 2007
I don't have a lot to say about Aleppo. It was 110 degrees (43C) and I didn't find it nearly as nice as Damascus.
The most interesting experience that I had there was going for lunch at an Iraqi-run schwerma place. I didn't know it was Iraqi until after I sat down. A couple of guys hanging out there ask me where I'm from. I tell them I'm an American. They tell me that they're Iraqi. The first one tells me that Americans killed his father and a friend, and he hates America! His friend standing next to him tells me that Americans killed his father and brother, but still he loves America. I don't know what to make of that encounter. The story will have to be told as is, and you can make your own conclusions from it.
Hama was the site of the worst massacre in modern Middle Eastern history. A group called the Muslim brotherhood tried rebelling against the strict Baathist regime led by Hafez Assad, the current President's father. They declared Hama to be a "free city". The Syrian government retaliated with a vicious attack including a bombing of the city, a systematic slaughter of anyone suspected of being with the Muslim Brotherhood, and a reported gassing of their own people. An estimated 30,000 men, women, and children were slaughtered. It's the worst massacre in modern Middle Eastern history, but largely forgotten and ignored.
As my bus creeps into Hama, I'm disappointed by the view of ugly 4 story apartment buildings packed together amidst the dry dirt. But as we reach the center of town, Hama becomes beautiful and green. In the center of town is a lovely park with a river running through it. The park is famous for it's Roman-built water wheels. Originally, these water wheels were used to lift water up to the aqueducts in the higher part of town. Today they're just scenic.
I could easily spend at least a couple of days here relaxing. But I'm out of time. I'm working on marketing material for the upcoming fashion tradeshow in Barcelona, and if I want to have any time at all in Lebanon, I have to head to Lebanon tomorrow.
Tomorrow I'm heading to Beirut.
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