Syria has been on the news quite a lot recently, sadly for the wrong reasons. I thought I would update you all, if you didn’t know by now, on the situation and also on my situation. You will all be relieved to know that I have left Damascus and come to Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon. Though this was a hard decision, to leave my friends, Arabic course and internship, I felt it was the correct one, considering the FCO advise and my family worrying. However I want to tell you all a bit about the situation in Syria, that the news in not reporting. Even coming to Beirut I can begin to see how it can look extremely bad in Syria at the moment in the international media.
I left from Damascus on Wednesday to come to Beirut. Even then everything was fine in Damascus. Shops were open as usual and there were people walking around the streets as normal. It was maybe a bit quieter than usual in the old city but on the whole it was business as usual. The previous Friday though was a bit strange. There was a tense mood in the air, no traffic on the road and neighbourhood groups protecting their neighbourhood with sticks, batons and guns in the old city. All were extremely friendly towards me and other foreigners it had to be said. However, from the news and friends in Syria I do realise that in Douma (the outskirts of Damascus) is having a tough time, with the army patrolling the streets, shootings occurring, and shops being closed. The same seems to be occurring in Dera’a (a village an hour south of Damascus), Homs (a city 2 hours north of Damascus), Banias (a costal city 5 hours from Damascus) and Latakia (A coastal city also around 5 hours from Damascus). In Damascus itself there was little evidence to the foreign eye of the unrest seen in the country.
At the moment the situation is not improving, events now have been going on for so long, and so many people have been killed that the situation cannot return to normal.
During my last days in Syria, I shopped, sat in courtyard restaurants (getting my last fixes of Damascuscine life and saying goodbye to friends. I hope to be back soon if the FCO advice lowers. In the meantime I will be applying for jobs everywhere and anywhere. I should be coming home back to the UK in a week or so. Enjoy the royal wedding and I hope to see you all soon!