no recorded event has occurred in the world but Damascus was in existence to receive news of it. Go back as far as you will into the vague past, there was always a Damascus... She has looked upon the dry bones of a thousand empires and will see the tombs of a thousand more before she dies.-mark twain, The Innocents Abroad
i made it to damascus. i slept on a roof last night--at least for a couple of hours. i woke early, having only about 5 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours, and felt strangely refreshed, so i got an early start. apparently the syrians don't. so i've been wandering around watching them setting up their massive markets and waiting for the ummayyad mosque to open so i can slip in before it's closed again for mid-day prayers.
the city is sprawling, ancient (arguably the oldest city in the world--reaching far back into prehistory. see the above quote), polluted, noisy, busy, decaying, growing, and friendly, all at once. there's very little english here but i have managed to bungle around okay with my arabic skills. there are a lot of iraqis around, though i haven't been able to figure out when they arrived here. there's also old iraqi dinars, with saddam's picture on them, for sale at some of the touristy places.
i think the mosque is open now (they guy i met in front either said it opens at 10 o'clock or in ten hours, i'm betting on the former), time to go...