This morning after breakfast and another quick workout at Hotel Laurus in Aleppo, we drove back south towards Homs at 9am.
Along the highway towards Homs we stopped for local pistachios back at Hama.
While our family dinner 2 nights ago was in the new city of Homs, today we drove to observe the badly destroyed old city of Homs from the Syrian civil war.
To prepare us, scenes of destructions littered alongside the highway between Hama and Homs.
Once arriving into old Homs, we first spent about half an hour at the renovated Khalid ibn al-Walid Mosque.
This Ottoman-style mosque was built in commemoration of Khalid ibn al-Walid, an Arab military leader who ended Byzantine rule in Syria at the Battle of Yarmouk after which led the Muslim conquest of Syria in the 7th century.
After 20 minutes at the mosque, we then headed outside to finally face the destroyed city of old Homs:
With a tour through this part of Homs, we quickly walked through neighborhoods that were completely damaged by the war.
But like what I had discovered when I was in Mosul 6 years ago right after the fall of Daesh, life always finds a way.
Not wanting to spend too longer as if it would seem we were overstaying our welcome and lingering for the wrong reasons, we drove onwards back to Damascus.
Once freshening up back at our favorite Talisman Hotel, we spent an hour souvenir shopping back in the old souqs by the Umayyad Mosque.
By 9pm we returned to change and headed out for a salsa party on the rooftop of Hotel Cham. Ophelia was able to set this up for us through Mihalea’s local Syrian friend Fadi, whom she had first met on a study abroad trip a few years ago in Nepal.
The atmosphere at the party was nothing short of incredible. This will likely endure as the trip highlight that made Syria special for everyone; the energy that invited us was pure and genuine, with the perfect amount of hospitality and without the overabundance of curiosity we had to gotten used to.
In other words, we were all offered a chance to dance salsa as if we had been part of all their longtime dance studios and without any judgment.
Then a minor scare occurred where not only did Leshawn accidentally bump her head against a revolving door leading to a flap laceration, the doctors in our group were then summoned again to assist one of their friends and dancers in distress, and who appeared to be having his first seizure. It was back to work; we were able to bring him back to consciousness from what appeared to be a post-ictal period and after I lifted up his legs to bring blood back to his brain.
After he got up on his own, we got him a few friends to take him to an ambulance waiting downstairs. The party then resumed with hip hop and a b-boy dance off with 2 of their b-boys and with myself and Sampson.
After our battle, they played hits including Temperature and WAP! We then finished it off when Priyanka, Rajani and I ran back at the last minute to perform bhangra to Beware of the Boys.
Taking cabs back to the old city of Damascus, some of us grabbed some munchies such as chicken shawarma and falafel sandwiches as if we were right back at home before turning in at 2am.
- At time of posting in Homs, it was n/a - Humidity: n/a | Wind Speed: n/a | Cloud Cover: n/a