Our taxi ride started as a trip to get lunch and meet with another cousin who is in the UN peacekeeping force. What an awesome family I have, they are all saving the world! We ended up spending 13 hours driving around with our taxi driver. So we left Damascus at 9am and headed to the to the Gollan heights.
The Gollan heights are an area of Syrian territory occupied Israel, guarded by the UN peacekeeping force. So a small kebab shop near the boarder of Israel and Syria became the unlikely host of a family reunion. After our kebabs we went next door to visit Marco, a man running a small shop selling Syrian handicrafts and doing business for the UN peacekeepers. Before we knew it a pot of tea was boiled, a water pipe was smoking and we were once again enjoying Syrian hospitality.
Then we visited the shouting hill. A village chopped in two by the 6 days war in 1967. Some families found one day that their children and partners on the other side of the Syrian, Israeli boarder. Unable to reunite, they had to shout across the boarder to communicate using a megaphone. Telecommunication and mail between the countries were not allowed. With the invention of internet communication became easier, but for important occasions like weddings, families still shout.
Natural springs were our next stop. We watched people of all ages fill up their water bottles with fresh water straight from the spring. Then we had the most amazing lunch in an outdoor terrace area. Sliky hummus, flat bread, kofta, crisp salads, lots of pickled vegetables. So simple, fresh and delicious. I can still remember how good this salad was. It had croutons made from flat bread, cucumber, cabbage, basil, lettuce leaves, and a balsamic, oliveoil. Then we had fried eggplants. The eggplants in Syria are amazing, so sweet and juicy in comparison with Australian ones. I would go back to Syria just for the fried eggplant.Our taxi driver and his wife. Who is also his cousin. And his brother married her sister. And his sister married her brother. The taxi drivers wife said she'd never do it to her own children, but it was normal to marry cousins at the time when they married. In 1992, so not actually that long ago! Shows how differently different cultures look upon things. But really they were the sweetest people ever.
We arrived back in Damascus at 10pm and popped into the local bar for a G&T and some pickeled carrots. It will be hard to forget this taxi ride.