Friday, 20 August 2010

A Day in Damascus

Well it wasn't too bad at first. This hotel was dirty and stained in bits but there was a lovely Syrian rug on our bed and we slept well. We had planned to spend the day in Damascus and sleep another night. Working out whether to sleep our second night in this hotel, I got up from the bed and saw we had a friend joining us. A little, fat, hairy friend. Our first experience of what is known to many as a COCKROACH (shhhh don't tell Nick. Don't tell Nick because he is insisting we call them CRICKETS instead. He thinks crickets are similar but way more friendly. The idea is that you see an enormous and terrifying cockroach and say 'ooh yes a little cricket's popped in to say hello' and you don't really mind.) It was a gentle start into the realm of the c-blank-blank-blank-r-blank-a-blank-h-blank-s because he was only a tiddler but nonetheless I encouraged Nick to speedily pop an ashtray over him. Shutting him out our minds we enjoyed singing to Jesus and getting empowered for the day ahead - we SO need this time with him every day. (When Nick lifted the ashtray to set our cricket friend free there was nothing there. Disconcerting.)

We have booked our second night at the Orient Palace hotel - a three star - as a treat! We will stay there this evening. It was built in the 1920s and is recommended in the Lonely Planet if the traveller enjoys 'faded grandeur'. I think I do. The room is so spacious with a balcony and a beautiful blue and white woven rug on the bed... and yet it has a a bit of a battered feel. It is superb! After we waved goodbye to our cricket this morning we had breakfast here at our new hotel. LO and BEHOLD there was Lurpak on the table. I admit I had a mini-weep. We realised maybe we find the travelling harder than we realise. We had a large barney over suncream (which resulted in me agreeing to wear it every day you will be pleased to hear all four parents!) and here I was weeping over Lurpak! It's hot, everyone stares at you, you don't know where you are going and no one speaks your language. I think that is challenging, and it was good for us to admit it! And very good to enjoy some Lurpak whilst doing so.

Cheered up, we embarked on a stunning day in Damascus. It is the most enchanting city. Everything drips with age - particularly the ancient stone and the winding walkways between homes. We loved being on Straight Street - where Paul headed after being blinded by Jesus' brightness and prayed for three days, until Ananias came to help him. It was so awe-inspiring to imagine Paul walking down the very street we walked on (and that this net cafe is on!) We visited Ananias' house - which is now a small stone underground chapel. I lay on the floor (it belongs to my Daddy so I could be at home!) and both of us felt His presence strengthening us.

We also spent some time around the Umayyad mosque in the Old City, so important in Islam that only Mecca and Medina are more esteemed. We walked past as the Friday call to prayer resounded and hundreds of men and women flocked to it. I found this quite painful as I saw a great number of people who do not know Jesus not walking to him, but to another religion. It felt as though my eyes were clarified and I felt an acuteness about how much we need to share Jesus with the world. Often in my home setting my eyes are dulled and it feels okay that people don't know Jesus. Today I had a fresh clarity and a renewed brokenness. That passage from Romans turned in my heart: 'How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"' And I thought Lord I am not sent here at the moment! But please send those who are! Let them be obedient! And my encouragement to anyone who reads our blog is to go and to share the love and saving words of Jesus!

For lunch we stumbled upon perhaps the most beautiful place I have ever seen! It was like a little palace... with beaten dark wooden doors, white and blue mosaics, purple and pink and white stones, a fountain with flowers surrounding it, pearl & wooden chairs with deep cushions, delicate copper lanterns hanging... It's beauty was so perfect, and our delicious lunch of hummus, flatbread and falafels SO in our budget...

And here we are, still on Straight Street, recovering from the baking heat in our little cool internet cafe. Off to supper now and our faded / grand hotel tonight!

Nick & Cate
By the way, we love reading all your comments - every one means so much and is a real encouragement. Thank you!!! xxx


  1. You guys are amazing! I LOVE reading this and can't believe the adventures and tribulations you are having!! Wow, what a pair. Thinking and celebrating you this evening. Magic.

    Woop! Lots of love, Charl

  2. joyce and bill lear21 August 2010 at 00:28

    We think its wonderful that you are experiencing God's love through meeting new people. As parents we appreciate detail and are delighted that you are enjoying and surviving. Keep up the good work..much love J and B

  3. So blessed by your Christ centered marriage and obedience to go. will be keeping you in prayer. Amanda M.

  4. Hey guys, what an epic account of your journey from Tukaey to Damascus - the detail is so evocative. We were right there with you at your little palace of a restuarant, and Syria 'grey stones and white fabric' - lovely!
    Nick, we followed the web link to your Turkish trousers and we are just so impressed with someone who has the confidence to go forth thus attrired! Seriously, great work by the sound of it at Antalya and the Syrian border. We'll continue to pray for all these tricky situations.
    Well done, too, for persuading Cate to put on heavy duty Lurpak agaianst the sun (some mistake surely, Ed).
    Hope you have had a relaxing day in Damascus, and looking forward to hearing about Amman.
    Love from Alan

  5. Hope you enjoy much more faded grandeur and much less local wildlife in your hotels in the future! Cate how incredibly well you coped with that cockroach - I am very impressed... lots and lots of love

  6. Hey - great blog I am always pressing the link on my facebook page to see if there are new tales going on!!!

    For sure its always good to have some faded grandeur... but what about some modern ritzy grandeur - Ritz Carlton in Cairo perhaps???

    Also wanted to wish Cate an amazing BDAY tomorrow.... 23 you could be on a gap yah after uni lol. Slightly different voyage haha.

    You are a legend so enjoy it!! Love from Drew

  7. richard skiltini25 August 2010 at 10:40

    Go team Lear!

    Happy Birthday Cate!! Great to hear you are making friends with the furry locals!

    I'm off on my own adventure tomorrow so will wave out the plane window as I pass you on the way to Zim...

    Great to hear such tales though gives a really good feel of what you guys are up to and sounds like lots of fun...

    Anyway hope you are having lots of fun today.

    Much love from sunny London.


  8. Happy Birthday Cate!! I hope that you are having a really fun time on your big day, more Lurpak please!

    Amazing to be on Straight Street, just so wonderful. You guys and brilliant. We all love you heaps and love this blog, keep going.

    Rols xx

  9. I feel privileged to be kept in touch with your travels and how you are meeting God in the small things as well as the big things. A lovely lyrical account of Syria. Makes me want to be there (minus the cockroach). Have just been to italy where Millie found scorpions in her room!
    Remember - When I am weak, I am strong.
    Loads of love
    All the Chichesters