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The Nortons Do Aleppo

We awoke in Aleppo and Woody’s stomach bug had returned with a vengeance.  This was a particularly tenacious one, requiring water, rest, and the occasional Coca Cola for caloric support.  Claudia and I decided to let him rest and explore the old quarter of Aleppo together.

Wheeling toward it, we were drawn to the giant minarets of the great mosque there, and we paused to admire the courtyard.  Entering as infidels in short pants didn’t seem the most halal of activities, so we gazed from outside and moved on to chain our bikes and explore on foot.

The old quarter of Aleppo is a market of gigantic proportions, selling everything from kebab skewers, to safes, to silk scarves, to painted plates.  We were not in search of anything in particular, and took time to gaze into every couple of shops.

Some sold copious amounts of gold chains and pendants.

Others trumpeted trading relationships with China, which was constantly spoken of in a poor light by many of the men we met in this part of the world.  It was good to see a bit of solidarity between these two great nations.

Strolling around the byzantine caverns proved chock full of eye candy.

Dated ads for paint products and over-eager shop owners caught our attention briefly, though continuing to stroll, getting more and more lost seemed to be the key.

We found ourselves in various antechambers and courtyards, where the economy of regional and international tourism collided with daily life in Aleppo.

Taking a peek at the old citadel and asking for directions at a camera shop only distanced us from any sense of direction.

Though we were able to finally stumble upon the bikes after coming across a fantastic decal of the Syrian president.

We had been discussing ideas for a T-Shirt to forever immortalize Syria in the form of AsiaWheeling apparel, and settled on an image of the beloved president with a command to partake in our favorite activity here “Getting Syrious.”  It is with pride that we present to you the latest addition to the AsiaWheeling T-Shirt Store: Get Syrious.

While Claudia wheeled home to rest and drop a Coke off for Woody, I picked up my laptop and headed out to clean up some photos and process my inbox.  On my way out, as I dodged trucks carrying gigantic tires, a shop owner invited me into his showroom.  They sold tires to the local populous here with “Made in Indonesia” emblazoned on the side.  They came in all sizes, and as I marveled at the inventory, I was invited into the back room to see the boss.  As we drank tea, we discussed in plain English the Aleppo tire market and what exactly it was that I was doing in Syria, as part of this “AsiaWheeling” company.  With praises to Barack Obama complete and the tea cup reaching its vacant state, we bid each other farewell and exchanged visiting cards.

On the street, an open wireless network with a weak signal provided hope of connectivity, and luckily it carried the namesake of a large hotel six blocks away.  Strolling over to the park across from the hotel, I synced and corresponded with the world as pedestrians peeked at my screen and came over to peer at the inner workings of gmail.

Wishing for a bit more comfortable surroundings, I stopped in a cafe whose clientele were utterly rapt in the World Cup.  The vibrations here were homey and rustic, the staff charming and stern, but helpful.   Closing my laptop, I headed home for a night of rest before the next big day of transit.


  1. Woody Schneider | October 24th, 2010 | 8:45 am

    The fingernails on the Chinese hand in the China Trade Center poster are fantastic.

  2. Scott | October 25th, 2010 | 3:53 am

    Those fingernails are an effort on the Chinese part to Get Syrious.

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