18 December, 2006

Back in the Big D

Nothing much to report. I arrived in the Big D Wednesday and am trying to figure out a routine that includes getting to bed before 3 and getting up before sunset. As I am in flux, I probably won't focus on the blogging just yet. Have to get my bearings, not to mention something to eat right now.

Damascus is much as I left it, save for some new construction projects.
I promise to get my ass in gear.

08 December, 2006

Where have all the Iraqis gone?

Many people in the US I talk to are shocked to hear that there are so many Iraqis living in Syria (and other surrounding countries) after fleeing the violence in their country. Some were surprised people were leaving, because Iraq seems like such a great place to raise a family these days. Some were surprised to hear of the troubles many of these refugees face in the countries they flee to. My neighborhood had many Iraqis living there. I heard complaints from many in Damascus that some prices had risen in response to the influx.

This article from the December 8 New York Times outlines the population shift out of Iraq. Be sure to look at the accompanying graphic for the statistics.

At the rate we're going, George, there won't be any Iraqis left to bring democracy to.

Again, click on the post header to link there.


02 November, 2006

My Opponent Eats Live Young

While I will vote next week, I feel it's just getting so ridiculous. When Bush said he believed Dick and Don were doing a great job, the first thing that popped into my mind was "You're doing a fine job Brownie," so I figure he's not the best judge of who gets a gold star for their work. Then again, if Dick and Don were eating babies on the White House lawn, he'd pretty much say the same thing, so never mind. Following W's comments, conservative writer Andrew Sullivan was quoted as saying "this is no longer an election, it's an intervention."

Electoral politics make me a bit shy to admit where I am from. I sort of cough out my response. Tell somebody you are from Palm Beach County, Florida and you will have a lot of explaining to do. For the record, I didn't live here during the 2000 debacle.

Listening to Katherine Harris in the "debate" last night, or as I referred to it "Katherine Harris and her ongoing debate with reality", was sad. She tossed out the old "9/11-Iraq connection" and all the standard party lines. Om-Taromeet and I were wondering if Sen. Bill Nelson was thinking, "Keep talking! Every time you open your mouth I go up a point!"

The saddest thing to watch are the pathetic ads, or what most people use to decide who they will vote for. In the final days it has basically come down to "My opponent is a Godless sinner!", "My opponent kicks puppies!", "My opponent eats her young!" I am just waiting for the add attacking a candidate as "an active member in an Al-Qaeda sleeper cell!" We cannot be that far off. So much for constructive discourse and, well, representative democracy. So, the middle class is slipping further into poverty, Iraq is "close" to chaos according to the US military, and the American dream is vast becoming unobtainable. But, at least gay people can't marry, some schools can teach that evolution is a "theory", and victims of rape and incest will most likely be "protected" from being able to have an abortion in S. Dakota. God bless the U.S.A.

And, in another example of the success of the Bush plan of "say it enough and people will believe anything", an informal poll I saw online said a majority of Americans think the new Al-Jazeera English-language network should not be allowed to broadcast in the US. Somewhat amusingly, %90 said if they needed work, they would not seek work with Al-Jazeera. I think they need not worry. Again, I guess free speech is only free if you tow the line. According to the current Al-Jazeera English-language web site, the network is FINALLY due to launch November 15. I, for one, hope that somebody will have the courage and conviction to carry the network. This country needs it.

Meanwhile, on the sunny side of life, according to the polls in Egypt we're now only the third most hated country in the world. Congratulations, Israel and Denmark.


23 October, 2006

Eid mubarak

I want to wish a joyous Eid to all marking the end of Ramadan. What is meant to be a time of sacrifice, charity, and empathy has turned into something quite different this year with the daily body counts coming out of Iraq, the staggering figures of loss from Sudan, and the growing clashes amongst Palestinian factions. This is supposed to be about quietly turning inward, seeking answers, not blood. There has been something especially saddening about watching and reading the same or worse news each day. I deeply hope next Ramadan will be something we can all celebrate.


12 October, 2006

Food for thought

I saw this essay, published in Vanity Fair, by historian and Harvard professor Niall Ferguson referenced in another essay and tracked it down. Interesting read and well worth your time. Click on the above title to get there....

Happy reading.

08 October, 2006

The Future.....

Well, after much consideration, I have decided to return to Syria a few days after the start of the new year.

I returned to the US out of necessity (personal matters) and had been missing my life and friends back there. I am now in the process of finishing up said personal matters, seeing family and friends, and getting ready to head out again. Not sure what the future has in store. All anybody needs to know, I am very happy about returning.

My skills with the blog are slowly improving and I promise to blog more regularly once on the ground there. I plan to include sound and video recordings along with photos and text. Of course, I say "plan".... If you would like to see something in particular or have ideas, just let me know.


04 October, 2006

Make your reservations today!

Having a difficult time deciding where to take the family on vacation next year?
Well, thanks to Iranian President Ahmadinejad, deciding on your next vacation just got a whole lot easier.

I can see the tshirts now....
"My Parents went to Isfahan and All I got Was This Enriched Uranium!"

"Iran - It's Nuclearific"

"Iran - So good, it glows!"

I'll see you there! Thanks Pres. Ahmadinejad.

01 October, 2006


Watching: Bob Woodward on 60 Minutes
Funny: http://harpers.org/Donkeys-20060922.html

So, I have been back in the US for two months, more-or-less. As we are dragged towards the mid-term elections I am reminded of what a mess we are in. Personally, I am just waiting for a campaign add that simply states outright "My opponent is the anti-Christ." And, will people drop the hollow promises about things they have absolutely NO control over. Just stop. But, hey, most of us won't vote anyway, so go ahead, vote for Old Bag of Leaves!
Finish the clip and click on some of the related links for other "candidates", such as Hashbrowns.
Thank you, Ad Council!

Great Quote from Woodward: "They can't even agree on the bumpersticker."

And, a blessed Ramadan to all my friends who are fasting. A lovely tradition with a strong social justice message - fasting is not about your suffering, it is about self-restraint and understanding the suffering of others. Something I think all of us could use a little more of.

Salaam, y'all.

10 September, 2006

Here's to O.

Found out that an American friend I met in Damascus, Omar, is leaving for basic training this week. Yes, O. joined the Army. Huge, surprising, and somewhat frightening news. He still has several months of basic followed by officer's training, but he will eventually be deployed, of course.

Even though I will worry about him, the Army will be a better institution for having him in it. Even more important than his language skills, so desperately needed on the ground, we'll be sending the world one great guy who truly believes he can make a positive difference.

So, here's to my friend, Omar. Safe travels.

09 September, 2006

On this anniversary.....

I read this and it summed up a lot of my feelings. With both the 9-11 Commission, a Senate panel, and the CIA all agreeing with what any decent sentient being figured out long ago.... Let's not celebrate this anniversary in the malls doing what we were asked to do (shop 'till you drop) by our leaders immediately after the fact or something reactionary, but rather let's finally get down to the hard thinking so many have avoided about the day, our history, and our (potential) futures.


Salaam. To those who have died all over the world in events they did not ask for and had no real control over.

01 September, 2006

Photos from Istanbul, not Constantinople

Mood: Slothlike and yet agitated
Music: Karadeniz by Burhan Ocal
Reading: Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds by S. Kinzer

Here, finally, are some photos from my week in Istanbul.....Feel free to correct me if I got any names wrong.
Salaam, y'all.

Aicha Qandisha enjoying watching the huge ships pass beneath the Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridge.

Rumeli Hisari, tower and amphitheater.

View across the Bosphorus at Rumeli Hisari, built in 1451 by Sultan Mehmed II ("the Conqueror") at the narrowest part of the Bosphorus to control traffic and prepare for the siege of Constantinople. The Asian-side tower of the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge stands in the background.

Inside the Roman cistern.

Under the central dome of the Sultan Ahmed mosque.

The Sultan Ahmed mosque.

Hagia Sophia as seen from the Sultan Ahmed Mosque.

Passageway, Hagia Sophia.

Mixture of iconographies beneath the layers, Hagia Sophia. I have read that there is controversy as to how to conserve the works of art here, as they are layered on top of each other.

Lesser dome of the Hagia Sophia and the principal dome and a minaret of the Sultan Ahmed mosque seen through an upper window in the Hagia Sophia.

Tiled niche overlooking the apse.

Detail of tilework in niche overlooking the apse of the original basilica

Window, Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Mary and Jesus mosaic in one of the domes of the Hagia Sofia.

Minbar of the Hagia Sophia with the name of God above.

Door to the library of Sultan Mahmud I, Hagia Sophia

One of many grand, arched windows in the Hagia Sophia.

(above) Hagia Sophia, beneath the great dome. After passing from Eastern Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism to Islam, the Church of Holy Wisdom was converted into the Ayasofya Museum by Ataturk in 1935.

Aicha Qandisha in the courtyard of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque
(also known as the Blue Mosque)

04 August, 2006

A Clear View of Lebanon

Thank you to Cursor.org for sharing the link to this map, which clearly shows the scale of the bombing of Lebanon. Click on the title of this post or follow the link to see for yourself.

I am back in the US to take care of personal affairs. Not sure what the future may bring. I have been in S. Turkey for the last month and a half and in Istanbul for the past week. Really wish I was back in Istanbul! Truly a great city. People I spoke with are VERY worried about this war escalating to include Syria and Iran.

My thoughts are with my friends in Damascus and the people of Lebanon.

I promise to update the blog. I had been staying in S. Turkey, about 30 minutes out of town and not convenient to internet access. Also, my personal life has all sorts of drama at the moment. Do have lots of photos and will get some up asap.

29 May, 2006

Turkey Pics

Looking back across the border at the coastal mountains in Syria from Turkey.
Tunnel of Titus, built by Vespasian and Titus to divert rainwater from the Orontes River and prevent flooding in and around the ancient port city of Seleucia Pieria.
Looking back at the city of Iskanderun from the boat.
We are heading back Wednesday, so I'll have more photos later.

07 May, 2006

Turkey Lurkey

Just returned from a lovely week in the Hatay province in southern Turkey. After five straight months in Damascus, I needed a break and I needed to see the sea again. Stayed at a friend's house outside the city of Iskanderun and did nothing for a week and it was great.

Today it's back to work, sort of. I arrived at 9am to find a mostly empty office. My desk taken over by someone else in my absence and I have no idea where my stuff is. My director seems to be out today, so I am catching up on emails and trying to get sorted out.

I begin private tutoring in Arabic in a week or so, when my teacher returns from traveling. Looking forward to making progress. After a week of only hearing Turkish and trying to practice the few words I know it was a bit of a trick to shift back to Arabic.

By the way, as far as I am concerned, the most important word in the Turkish language is "Tutku" (pron. tootkoo). It means passion, but is also the name of the most wickedly delicious cookies ever made. One of my friends who made the trip with our group happens to be thoroughly addicted to chocolate (to an occasionally frightening degree) and she got me hooked on them.

At the border yesterday there was a massive, miles-long backup of trucks due to the Americans' closure of the Turkish-Iraqi border, which forced everybody to go through Syria. I filmed a little of it. It was impressive. I joked that perhaps I should apologize to all the drivers for their troubles. Of course, it didn't stop our bus. We just drove down the other side of the road, which was also rather interesting.

The signs at the Syrian border crossing were quite amusing:
"Brother Travelers..." ('cause I guess we women don't get out much)
"Welcome to Assad's Syria" (which doesn't need to be changed from one to the next)
The one that told "my dear traveler" to "contact the appropriate official" in case of problems or complaints is funny to anyone who has ever dealt with foreign bureaucracies.

Promise to put up some photos and write more now that life is a little less hectic.

18 April, 2006

Still standing

Not much to add these days. We're coming off a four day vacation, which is never easy. Our exam and my kids' exam will be on the 26th. That, sadly, is the light at the end of my tunnel.

I managed fairly well on the mid-term with roughly 70%. As one of the women in my class noted, imagine how well I would have done without two jobs. I am learning and that's all that matters.

Going into the break I thought about getting out of town, but then decided to sit on my rear for some much needed rest. The traveling can come later. Actually, it was lovely to finally enjoy the house for a bit. My "brothers" Cheb, Ringo, Mike, and another Turkish friend who Cheb and I call "The Kofi Annan of Love" due to his international tastes and ability to juggle multiple "international relations", brought me a lovely gift of a meshoui grill (sort of a small hibachi) and then put it to good use. After two nights of being treated to grilled beef, chicken, and trout, I don't see how I could ever live without them. Seriously, I adore these guys. I teased them a bit by saying how nice it was to sit down for a family dinner, but by the second night we had all begun referring to the meals together as "family dinners". In fact, we're having another one tonight.

Last night there were fireworks over Jbel Quissiyoun to celebrate Syrian independence. I had the perfect vantage from my balcony. I must say I got a bit nervous when I first heard explosions. As an American here I get a bit nervous hearing explosions. One day at University we heard several air raid sirens go off during our longer break. The Ottoman turned to me and simply asked, "What haven't you told us?" So, yeah, there is sort of an expectation that if bombs drop I should somehow know about it.

Class is class. A classmate from England and I often sit together and muddle through our teacher's rapid-fire instruction in Arabic. The conversation usually unfolds like this:
"What did she just say?"
"Oh, I have no idea. Seriously, I'll just scribble the words I hear and look them up later."
"Was that last word with a Dau or Da?"
"I am soooo not the person to ask. Sorry."
Then our teacher looks about and asks "Tamaam?/OK?"
And we, of course, smile, nod, and reply "Tamaam."

So, not much going on. Just trying to stay upright and coherent for two more weeks until the storm passes and I can get down to having a real life. Hope everybody out there is doing well.
I promise to be more interesting in the future.


11 April, 2006

In honor of the hovel

The cooking, bath, and laundry facilities, combined for maximum efficiency.
The home entertainment center.
The salon and study on one side of the room....
And sleeping quarters on the other. Frosty always kept me company.

A moment of silence for the hovel. Several of you asked for photos, so here you go. Please note that I no longer live here.

02 April, 2006

I'm just a Dust Bowl refugee

Here is a photo of yesterday's dust storm taken in front of the hovel in Kafer Soussa.

We had absolutely crazy weather yesterday. You could see dust swirling about high in the sky from early on, but the sky grew darker and more menacing with each hour. Not so much black as a deep earthen brown. Then you began to hear thunder overhead and all around. Then the rain started. Or, more accurately, the mud started. The heavy rain carried much of the dust that had been airborne and deposited it on everything below. The streets in Mezza looked like the arroyos around Tucson after a good monsoon. I went for a swim courtesy of a taxi, thoroughly soaked from the waist down. I told the old woman who lives next door to the hovel that it was like we were on Mars, which made her chuckle.

Despite the rare MUDsoon, I found a house!!!! Thank goodness, because when I returned to the hovel to pack I noticed the doors and the few windows atop the wall leak freely. My house is in an area of Mezza Jbel (Mezza Mountain) known as the 86th Quarter Khezzan. The 86th is named for the Alouite company of soldiers who illegally occupied the area years ago. It's hardly a squatters camp these days. I was a bit shocked when told it is "illegal". Of course that term is a little grayer here. The house is atop a four-story building with a nice view of Jbel Qassiyoun and the city. I have a huge patio at the front door and a large covered patio off my bedroom. That's what sold me on the place. Cheb, Ringo, and Mike came over last night to christen it as my first guests and were dully impressed. After a few songs on the guitars and a Barada or two, we began referring to it as "our house". And so it is, as always, with the places I live. My open-door policy with friends continues. We have already begun plotting where to put the bar-b-que for the first party.


28 March, 2006

Weeping in the Face of Grammar

This is just a bit of warning for you few regular readers... Don't expect much from me this month. Remember how I kept saying I was doing well with Arabic, but that I was certain my personal brick wall was looming out there? Well, I ran smack into it on Sunday.

The first day of class was interesting. Ask anybody who has studied it and they will tell you, Arabic grammar is challenging. Learning it in Arabic is even more fun! Over half my class has studied Arabic previously at their respective Universities for at least a year, usually more. So, while my idea of a grand victory these days is correctly directing a cab back to the hovel in Arabic, these folks can discuss the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the upcoming Israeli elections in Arabic. At great length. Last thing I studied was how to invite people to a party and how to shop in the souq. So, to say we're not on the same level is a bit of an understatement.

And it's aaaaalllllll in Arabic. I am simply not adept enough to ask my many questions about the grammar in Arabic. And my teacher simply won't slow down. So, I figured I would sit back, try to grab what I can in class and study like a fiend in the few hours I am not at work or school. Unfortunately, she's really into participation, especially mine. After each point she makes, she turns to me and asks, in Arabic, "Do you understand, Dana?" And, usually, no, I don't.

Now, that's very considerate of her, but since nobody else is willing to back me up and say, "Hey, we don't either!" I am left dangling and feeling quite like the village idiot. After a few minutes alone with her during our breaks, I get it, but I don't feel like that's really a solution.
This is the same problem my friend experienced in fourth level and she ended up leaving the University for a private tutor. The gulf between those of us who began our studies here and those with previous experience is quite substantial.

So, as always, I will persevere. April will be my last month of teaching, also, and I look forward to actually having free time again. However, after this class, I think I will leave the University and be tutored privately. The goal is communication and right now I am worried about backsliding.

Still at the hovel and have grown a bit attached to it. I bought some clotheswire to hang my unmentionables, since the Laundromat here will not wash your undies for you. Currently, my tiny excuse for a kitchen is festively decorated with a neat row of undies, bras, and socks drying on the line. If this place had three things, I'd stay: windows, an outside space, and a washing machine. The neighborhood is actually kind of cool, much more like Morocco to me It's like a village in the city and that's a nice change from the modern sterility of Mezza. The "house/room" is very Peace Corps. For example, I have a Western toilet, but you have to fill the tank yourself to flush it.

I just wanted to warn folks that if I update at all in the coming weeks, it will be brief. Just know I am still alive and kicking (and screaming and tearing my hair out about grammar).


23 March, 2006

A few photos of Amsterdam

Being a kayaker, I saw lots of possibilities in this city.
Thankfully, I am 100% Halal!
Amsterdam, January 4, 2006
Sunrise over the canals, Amsterdam.
This is a beautiful city and I hope to make it back someday.
I didn't shoot many images in Amsterdam. First, it was really cold. OK, not really a good excuse. Second, I was fresh off an trans-Atlantic flight, only half-way to my destination, and dog-tired. Third, I didn't really know where anything of note was. I sort of stumbled around town for awhile and enjoyed myself. Lazy girl. Very lazy.

FIRDOS in the press


An article about microfinance in Syria and FIRDOS appears in the March issue of Syria Today. Go to the link above and scroll down to the articles under "In This Month's Edition" and look for the article entitled A Little Goes a Long Way.

20 March, 2006

The Landlady Strikes Back, Pt. II

I knew my sahiba al-beit wanted me out, I just didn't realize how soon.
Thursday was a holiday here. Teacher's Day, not that it did me any good. My mobile rang while I was in an editorial meeting for some of our preliminary publications. It's the agency asking me to meet him in an hour to look at a room with a family near Amideast. I reminded him that I am looking for something in Mezza and he gently tells me that my landlady is "insistent" that I leave the house. That day. The immediate problem was that 4:30 in the afternoon on a Thursday is sort of like throwing somebody out at 11pm on a Saturday. Friday is a day off, the first day of the weekend, and being the day for gathering at the mosque, many things are closed. I also was not very impressed with his attitude that I had brought this on myself by staying out late with friends twice, ignoring my explanation that her not speaking to me predated my nights out.

I finally agreed to meet him downtown and went about trying to find a place to sleep. I sent a text message out to all my friends hoping to find a bed for the night (or two or three). It is very true that you discover who your friends are in times like these and I was quite happy at the quick and thorough responses from several.

I have a feeling that no room he would have taken me to would have suited me at that moment. I was rather angry, to say the least. The second was the most exciting, with an old woman and her daughter-in-law arguing quite loudly as to who actually owned the house and had the right to decide whether to rent the room or not.

luckily, I remembered my teacher had mentioned knowing a small apartment near her family's house in a neighborhood behind the University. So I called her and arranged to see it that evening before heading back to the apartment to pack my things. About the same time I got another call from my Turkish friend, Cheb, offering space at his place if need be. We arranged to meet at 8.

The "house" I looked at reminded me of life in Peace Corps. Now, I am not complaining about it. It was well above and beyond for my teacher and her sister, my former teacher, to find me a place to live, especially so quickly. This is definitely a little rougher than I've been living, but it's safe and dry and good enough for the time being. I have a room with a bed and small sofa, a galley kitchen, and a bathroom. Once you have lived without running water, electricity, and any form of heating, anything else seems quite posh. I accepted it and arranged to move in on the weekend.

With my anger at a bit of a boil, I headed back to Mezza to pack my things. My housemate from Spain later told me she thought I handled myself remarkably well and better than she would have. I climbed into the crawl space for my bags with the sahiba squawking behind me about her belongings, which to my eyes appeared to be a large mound of junk. I began furiously packing in order to meet Cheb at 8. Sahiba demanded I hand over my key despite my questions as to how I was going to return to fetch my bags. My two housemates graciously agreed to help when I returned. I threw a few things in my pack and headed for the U.

I must add a note of thanks to the Damascene taxi drivers. All afternoon they seemed to sense something was wrong and were quick with correct change (that alone a miracle) and a kind word. The driver that dropped me at the University would only accept whatever change I could find, well below the fare on the meter, and gave me a smile and wished me well.

Waiting for me at President's Gate were my friends Cheb and Fattoush. Fattoush, one of the other teachers at the University, explained I would be going home with her for as long as I needed. After explaining that I should call if I needed anything and that he would help me look for a house in coming days, Cheb left us for the night.

Two micro buses later we were on the west side of Jbel Quassiyoun, past the suburb of Dummar. At this point I only knew Fattoush from school and what my friends in the other class had to say about her. I suspected we would get along well when my friend from South Africa described her as, "sarcastic". And, indeed, we are "two peas in a pod", as my mother says. Not only is she smart, funny, direct, and fearless, she's a lot of fun too. As is her family. In the course of one evening, I spoke Russian with her dad, got "engaged" to her ten-year old brother (well, the agreement was for twenty years from now) and helped plan that same brother's "campaign" for the Presidency of the United States in 2008. Her parents and siblings are funny, warm, and intensely welcoming people. I ended up spending two nights with them, with a promise to return soon.

Friday night Fattoush, The Ottoman, a friend of his from the Turkish Embassy, and I went to see a play based on one of my favorite books, the Epic of Gilgamesh. The Ottoman's friend is a military attache and because she initially couldn't remember his name, Fattoush kept calling him "Mr. War."

The play was an original creation of one of the staff at the French Cultural Center. The Ottoman expressed interest in seeing it because "it's a Turkish story." Of course, I had to point out to him that there was no "Turkey" during Babylonian days. He remains insistent that it is, somehow in its lineage, Turkish and that somehow endears him to me. Unfortunately, he has yet to actually read the story and I think that might have helped, since the play was in Arabic. The interpretation was broad and only focused on the story until the death of Enkidu, not Gilgamesh's subsequent quest, which I think is unfortunate since that's the heart of the story - seeking atonement. Or as Joseph Campbell points out "at-one-ment". Everybody go pick up a copy of Hero With a Thousand Faces, then we'll talk.

I moved into the hovel on Saturday. The amount of baggage I schlepped downstairs shocked everybody who came to help despite my constant reminders that I live here and am not a casual visitor. By Sunday I was a bit of a wreck, paranoid about failing my exam and having to repeat my second course in Arabic and finding time to make a mid-term for my students. I almost started to cry in my last Arabic class Monday when I arrived late and then looked at the reading in my book and couldn't recognize anything. Everything just sort of hit me, but I spent a little time during the breaks with The Ottoman, Cheb, and my British friend, Ringo, and they managed to make me smile. I managed to pull it together (with the help of lots of chocolate cake from the ladies at Amideast and a late-night nargila-laced study session with my friend from S. Africa) and I think I managed to do just fine. As always, "Insha'allah!"

This week we're off from University, but I will be working. Only, I just found out tomorrow is Mother's Day and in honor of hard-working moms here in Syria the government gave people the day off so they can stay home and make more work for mom. I declined the offer of a raging house party in the Old City tonight. I need to, finally, make the exam for my kids and get some sleep. And maybe fend off some of the many spiders that share the hovel with me.

Ma'asalaama, ya'll.

13 March, 2006

Photos, FINALLY!

Detail of Roman sculpture, Bosra.
Ruins of a colonade in Old City at Bosra. Originally a Roman public fountain complex.
Original basilica structure, now the prayer hall of the Umayyad mosque, with the Dome of the Treasury (foreground).
Minaret of Jesus, Umayyad mosque.
Minaret above the tangle of rooftops, Old City.
Icon in small, outdoor shrine near Bab Touma, Old City.
Shiite singers from Pankistani Kashmir inside prayer hall at Umayyad mosque.

Inside the prayer hall. Tomb of Yehia (left).

The courtyard of the Umayyad mosque with the Dome of the Treasury (foreground) and the Minaret of the Bride (background).
The Dome of the Eagle inside the original basilica structure of the Umayyad mosque.
Photos left by pilgrims hoping for blessings from Yehia (John the Baptist).
Shiite pilgrims entering Umayyad Mosque at Bab Al-Amara.
Outside the Umayyad Mosque, early morning, with Minaret of Al-Gharbiyya.
Inside the prayer hall of the Umayyad Mosque, mid-day.
Mid-day prayers amidst the traffic through the mosque.

(So happy to finally get these posted, I could cry! Enjoy, folks.)