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Adventures in Syria

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By the time we arrived in Syria, my belly had grown round and my feet had grown slow. I was ready to start traveling slow, but we had plane tickets back to the US in two weeks from Cairo.

After leaving Iraq and going back to Eastern Turkey for a couple more weeks, we crossed the border into Syria at Kisli. The border crossing was a fiasco, which took over 6 hours and being assaulted by the immigration police. We are Americans and did not have a visa.

We made it through.

This was our route of travel through the Balkans and the Middle East

Once in Aleppo we stayed with two generous French boys. Aleppo was the kind of city we could stay in. We’d wake up early and walk across the city to spend half the day wandering through the old souq or marketplace. Then we ate falafel for lunch. Wade worked in the afternoons on Vagabond Journey while I washed clothes, napped, or watched my belly grow.

Then we would eat more falafel. I liked Aleppo.

Spices in the market of Aleppo

We decided to go to Latakia on a whim. Some English kids told us it was a dirty town, but we had an itch to go see the Mediterranean Sea. We arrived at the Aleppo train station in the morning only to be told that the train didn’t leave until late afternoon. Our packs were pretty heavy at that point so we spent the day waiting in the station and waiting in the park across the street — only to almost miss our train because Wade really wanted to get hamburgers half an hour before it left.

Wade grabbed my pack and we ran from the hamburger stand back to the train station only to find our train just starting to pull away. Wade jumped up into an open compartment while the train was gaining speed. I struggled for a few more steps but found myself hoisted up by Wade and a train conductor. Those were the best hamburgers we ever had in our lives.

Syrian kids in a park in Aleppo

Latakia was a dirty town. We had to walk five miles to get to the Mediterranean. Wade got sick. I stayed in to take care of him. I fed him donuts. He got better.

Soon enough we boarded a bus for Damascus.

We spent our time in Damascus wandering through the old city. I would leave early in the morning to get croissants that I would bring back to Wade in the hotel. Then we’d go out together for awhile until he went back to work. We’d meet up again in the afternoon. I love walking through the streets of a new city, it is one of my favorite things to do.

Train in Syria

But in Syria sometimes it was a little lonely. Women lead a private life in Syria, hidden behind their veils and burqas. When I was with Wade, men would come up to talk to him. But men only came up to talk to me when I was by myself, and they were not the kind of man I would want to talk to. The women there were almost invisible.

Women in the market of Aleppo

Occasionally I could catch a friendly glimpse from a woman or even a smile, but it was rare. I missed the camaraderie of being with and meeting other women, especially mothers, especially since I was pregnant.

It was time to keep traveling on.

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Filed under: Food, Pregnancy, Syria, Travel With Family

About the Author:

After traveling on her own for three or four years, Chaya met up with Wade Shepard, the editor of VagabondJourney.com. They were married in 2009, and continue to travel the world together with their young daughter. From time to time Chaya blogs about family travel and life on the road. has written 102 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Chaya Shepard is currently in: Xiamen, China