55km Hisyah to Almarh

Stunning mountains near DamascusWinter decided to make its presence felt today and we weren’t very happy to see it. The weather forecasters had promised sun and balmy temperatures so when the icy wind and rain showed up we felt more than a little betrayed. It was cold enough that we could see our breath all day and bus shelters were a frequent stop as we tried to warm up again and stay dry. We met some interesting locals this way (most of whom used sign language to declare us crazy for cycling in the chilly weather) but the frequent stops slowed us down and we didn’t get as far as we’d hoped. Maybe we should have jumped in the back of one of the numerous trucks who stopped to offer us a lift but we pushed on instead, hoping for those elusive clear skies over the next hill.

By early afternoon we had to admit that the elements had gotten the better of us. Up went the tent in a field and we snuggled inside, hoping for better times tomorrow. If the temperatures don’t improve we may make a dash straight for Damascus. Initially we wanted to take a side road up into the mountains to the village of Malula; a place where locals still speak the language of Jesus Christ. Pictures we’ve seen look beautiful with houses carved into the rocks but, on the other hand, if we’re freezing now we’re not overly tempted to go even higher into the hills. We can see snow on some of the nearby peaks. We’re also wondering if our plan to stay in Syria for most of the next month is the best idea. The thought of more cold rain has us considering a route dead south, as far into Jordan as possible, with a train or bus back to the Turkish border at the last minute. We know we’ll have to face winter in Turkey and north-east Iran but we’ve no desire to bring it on earlier than necessary. No doubt our stay in Damascus will include a lot of pondering with maps and guidebooks, trying to decide where to go next.

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