20.08.2009 - 22.08.2009
Having accepted Amir's invitation, we headed to the village of Bokros further south along the Euphrates from the city of Dier Ez-Zor. Eventually after a series of rather disastrous minibus rides, including one where the window exploded for no reason, we arrived. Here he led us to a nice looking house in an otherwise nondescript farming village, and introduced us to Mohammed, the owner of the house and Khalid, a friend of theirs who was staying there. Both seemed very well educated and had a good command english, and both worked for the Syrian National Oil company, Mohamed as a communications technician and Khalid as a safety officer.
This was all a rather surreal and dream like experience. The house seemed to be the centre of village life, as many of the locals would stop by for a bit for some tea or to partake in our meals. Although not rich by any means, clearly these oil workers were the most wealthy in this village of farmers, and supported much of the rest of the populace with their earnings, although to what extent I can't say. Many strange characters stopped by during our stay, including one other oil worker, Geologist Naif, but mostly random farmers and villagers, one of whom sang even us a song.
We were served lavish amounts of tea and awesome Syrain homecooking (by far the best food we had in Syria). Being excellent hosts, they made it seem that every wish would be catered for. Having arrived from the desert after an exhausing ride, their unswerving hospitality was akin to finding a lake of fresh ice cold ice tea in the desert.
Perhaps I haven't captured the surrealness of the events. These were very intelligent people and constantly played jokes on us that caught us a little off guard. These ranged from trying to guilt trip us that they won't be able to eat for 3 days because they served us meat to warning us about being eaten by the dogs that wandered around the village, as well as asking us to sing them a song as it was part of their tradition, apparently. Coupled with the host of other characters that popped by, who they described extravagantly as professors of english (to a guy that clearly spoke none), and professional football players (to a heavy chain smoker), this made for a very odd experiance.
Eventually we were led to the roof where Amir was already sleeping, where we immedeately fell asleep under the many visible stars, although not before Khalid pointed out his star, and told us to remember him everytime we see it. That was a little wierd.
We had planned to leave the next morning, but they were very eager for us to stay forever, although Mohammed had left for work that morning. We were served a massive breakfast, and chatted and played chess with an ever increasing group of men until lunch. A huge lunch later, we were encouraged to sleep. Relaxation is something the Arabs do very well, and we followed their lead to a daytime nap. Then, with heavy hearts, they let us go and put us onto a minibus to Dier Ez-Zor, from where we got onto a coach to Palmyra.