We’ve never had such a hard time spending our money. All day we tried to buy things and over and over again local people refused to take a cent from us. A litre of gas for our stove. A huge bag of oranges. A bottle of cola and some cheese. These were all given to us along with a hearty “welcome to Syria” and a smile. Each time we passed our money across the counter once, twice, three times and it quickly came back to us without any hesitation. We found ourselves wishing we had something to give to people who are so generous, a little Canadian flag perhaps or some other momento. We will have to do some thinking before we get to Iran where, by all accounts, people are even more welcoming to visitors, although to be more open and giving than what we’ve experienced in Syria hardly seems possible. We also had several invitations to have tea and spend the night with families but we pushed on instead; still a bit tired from yesterday’s encounter and also because we only have a few days before we have to get back to Damascus and renew our visa.
By late afternoon we were riding a ridge just north of Bosra and we tucked ourselves into the ever-present olive grove to set up our tent. Down on the plain we can see the lights of a large town. We can’t quite hear the call to prayer from our spot, far removed from any villages, but we did gaze over the green glow of the minarets, standing out above all the buildings as we sipped our evening coffee.