I never did make it to Syria unfortunately, but I did visit Yemen in 2008, which I’m thinking about now in the midst of this stupid Muslim Ban. Who knows what Trump will do to further dampen the spirits of these people, but my heart breaks when I think about it.
The guys were all carrying these huge knives, tucked in their waistbands, but never once did it feel threatening. If anything it was comedic… they weren’t even weapons in our eyes; more like part of their uniform, which they wore proudly along with those ear-to-ear grins.
I can still remember these welcoming, friendly, intrigued and funny people and their smiles as they showed us around their stunning country in a beat up old car with the bottom falling out! We saw houses on giant rocks and gawped in wonder. How they could possibly have built things like this, we could only imagine.
I can still remember how Ahmed, our host, was so eager to show us a good time, that he went out of his way to call a friend who owned a bird. He let us hold it, and showed us how it always returned, even when set free to fly across the desert. That bird was so well loved.
Our host’s wife invited us into the living room of her home to share a cake she made us, even though she barely had any furniture. In fact, the whole house, and most of the other houses we saw, looked as though they might fall and crumble at any moment. And that was before the bombs.
“Please tell all your friends to come to Yemen,” these kids told me, before posing for a photo we didn’t even ask for in the pouring rain.
“We don’t get enough visitors here!”