after writing my post the other day, we went to a restaurant nearby to have dinner. this place was decorated all fancy, and yet the meals were still dirt cheap. they had all sorts of freakt things on the menu that we ended up being too afraid to try such as lamb brain, lamb spinal cord, lamb medula, and whole sparrows. another funny thing about this place was that they dont have any free napkins to use, but charge you for a box of napkins that they put on the table. at the end of the meal, we figured that since we paid for the napkins, we may as well take them home, so several of us grabbed 4 or 5 napkins each out of the box. the syrian family sitting across the room from us just thought this was the most hilarious thing they’ve ever seen and were totally laughing at us. heh, silly tourists…
after only a short 2 day stay, we left allepo to go on a tour of the dead cities. these are a string of cities between allepo and hamma that were built in the 6th century and then completely abandoned. our tour took us to 3 or 4 of these cities and we got to wander through the remains of the towns. the areas that these towns were in were completely full of rocks and debris. in most of them, you could barely even see the ground cause there were so many rocks strewn about. amidst the debris, there were many half formed partly destroyed homes built from the same kind of rock. we climbed into and through these demolished structures. these cities have been abandoned for centuries, but in recent times, some families have moved back into a couple of the towns, so here and there we would see a random person hearding sheep or bunch of chickens running around. it’s kinda crazy that people in modern timesd live in these ruins, farming their animals in primitive conditions in stone buildings. it’s like if you went to greece and visited the parthenon only to find a few ancient greeks in togas still chilling there. although, i guess in some ways, these stone houses aren’t all that different than a lot of the structures that people in small syrian villages live in.
halfway through the tour, we stopped in a small town to get some fallafels since we were all starving. we walked into the small shop and the ownder started making fresh fallafel for us. here, the fallafel balls are small and have a hole in the middle like miniature donuts, and they have a special tool that they can use to scoop falafel balls extremely quickly. soon enough, there were 6 *huge* fallafel sandwchiches waiting for us. total cost for 2 fallafels (so big that caryn couldnt finish hers) and a large coke? one dollar!! one thing that we werent prepared for, was the welcoming we got at this shop. i dont think this town gets very many tourists (or any actually). as soon as we came in, people from around the town started pouring into the shop to look at us. pretty soon, the shop was literally full of little kids and adults just standing around, talking to each othern, and gawking at the bizarre tourists. at one point, there were actually peoiple lining up at the windows peering inside!! heh, we were such a spectacle. the few people who could speak a tiny bit of english, tried to struggle their way through converstaions w/ us. it all was such a funny scene! on the way out, i all of a sudden remembered that i had my camera, and everyone who was still left got extremely excited that i would take their photo. after taking the photo, everyone clammored around me to get a look at the sceenshot on my camera. all the little kids were unbelievably psyched to see their photo!
the final stop on our tour was apamea. this is another ancient city, but this one instead of the old rock house structures, had more of a roman kind of feel to it, and the rubble was mainly this long promenade w/ huge columns on either side. in certain parts, you could see indentations that were left by chariot wheels from a long time ago.
one done with our tour, we continued on to Hamma, where we stayed for the night.