Wednesday, March 21, 2007


A friend visited last week for a week vacation, giving me the chance to see the Syria of postcards and guidebooks. (I also introduced him to the Syria I know, my friends and favorite places.)

We explored the Roman ruins of Palmyra, an obligatory stop on any tour of Syria. At sunrise, we walked across the vast landscape of scatted pillars and colonnades, fragments of stone temples and towers, and over the remains of the city walls, across the desert, tinged green after winter rains, and up to a 17th-century castle, sitting atop a rocky perch overlooking the ruins, pillars appearing as toothpicks and the palm-studded oasis as an island.