Mauola – Friday.

In some ways Damascus is Hotel California. the is this core of people who just can never leave. On the other hand people are going all the time and I’ve been to more leaving parties than I can shake a stick at.

Some of the language students hear baffle me. they come with no Arabic, stay 5, maybe 6, weeks and spend a month at the university, then leave with better no Arabic. The Fixer tells me to stop trying to figure them out and just accept the ‘Language Tourists,’ don’t actually want to learn Arabic, just feel good about themselves in Syria.

They are extremely well organised sight sears. The Hotel California lot, including me*, are crap. Bukra my friend, bukra. However the Language Tourists are always keen to organize some Hotel Califiorniks onto there trips. The longer you stay the more desirable you become, as the better your Arabic is, though you also become harder to recruit, having seen more of the sights. As the language tourists are keen hammamers and eaters out I intend to know a couple at all times.

Which is kinda how I found myself going to Mauola, rather than learning some new words. My flat mate Frency, who I really like, is in Syria to get spatial distance between her and her broken heart until time kicks in, asked me if I wanted to join her.

Maoulas claim to fame is being one of three places where Aramaic, the language of Christ, is still spoken. clinging to the rocky hills, it’s predominantly Christian. The sights are a monastery and a convent. Maybe its the imminent birthday of our lord, but Mauola was pretty happening, with lots people, Christians and Muslims, at the sanctuarys. Somehow it kinda felt like Switzerland, though the skylines dominated by a huge, precariously positioned statue of the virgin Mary and what looks like a copy of the statue of Christ at Rio.

As far as I’m concerned the point of Mauola is the landscape. All limestone, with lots of little, formerly inhabited caves, some with long decrepit ladders up to them. it had a rather cool canyon leading down to the convent. the guidebook describes it as a mini version of Petras siq, but I thought it was more like St Catherines, (a cave we did in Clare) except with less water and no roof, obviously. The whole countryside was pink rock and the houses clung to the sides of the cliffs in an appealing way. Frency and I got excited about the various textures and enjoyed the cool, crisp air. you don’t notice smog until it goes away. It actually felt like autumn, for pretty much the first time.

The monastery is dedicated to Sts Serge and Baccus, and didn’t have a single doorway sized for normal people. it did have a really beautiful domed thing with lovely icons in perfect coulors over an alter adorned with a pair of eco friendly light bulbs. one assumes the monks find them lower maintenance than candles.

I particularly enjoyed the gift shop, not only was it staffed by someone desperate to get us to try the wine (very sweet) but it sold some of the kitschest Santa Clauses and snowmen I’ve seen this side of a coke advert.

The convents gift shop limits itself to reproductions of its icons, but it does have a cave, the home of st Thalika (who abandoned her fiance for St Paul. she was sentenced to death but the lions wouldn’t eat her, so they tried to burn her but it pissed it down. she ran off, moved into a cave in Maloula, was nearly raped but was saved when the rock behind her opened up to create the canyon). its much later than the monastery, and generally not as good.

We made it back to town in time for a beer at Abu Georges before I went off to meet R. basically Maula rocks the socks of Sedanya.

*My excuse is R is closer to free at weekends.

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About adventuresinarabic

I'm studying Arabic in Damascus, living through the Arab Spring and blogging about my experiences hear.
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6 Responses to Mauola – Friday.

  1. Phoebe says:

    Ha! I learnt about Saints Sergius and Bacchus as part of my degree. I read their Life, they were high up friends of the emperor and had really good positions in the army until they said they were christian. Pretty standard stuff, (presecuted, angel heals them, emperor doesn’t understand why, tortures them more, kills one of them then tortures the other then kills him too) but its pretty cool that you went to a church dedicated to them.
    I’ve been reading your blog lots, sounds like mostly good times

    • oliinarabic says:

      They’re pretty big in the Middle east, cool you’ve herd of them. I love how god interveans, the romens try again and god just goes ‘oh well,’ and lets them die second time round. Do you know the 40 martyrs? they were chucked in a lake to get hypothermia, but god walmed it so the romans dragged em out, broke theire legs n chucked em back into drown. gods just like ‘fair play to those romans, they try.’

      Syria is good times. hows the job hunt?

  2. Phoebe says:

    Yeh ha ha. Though to be fair they are now with God which is what they wanted in the first place so *shrugs*
    Never heard of the 40 matyrs. Will have to look it up.
    Job hunt has translated into a job. Its in a small business making billions of boring phone calls every day and I have a cranky 76 year old boss. On the plus side I now have money for the first time in forever, its good 😀

  3. Phoebe says:

    Oh at home. I’ll spare you the details, you can imagine how I feel about that.
    At least work is 5 minutes walk away.
    I’m planning to do a TEFL course and go to Italy. Theres one I know that starts on the 17th of Jan, I need to get applying asap really.

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