Krak des Chevaliers

Krak des Chevaliers, Syria, 2005:  A farmer walks his cows past the imposing walls of the 1000 year old Krak des Chevaliers. The castle, originally built in 1031 for the emir of Aleppo, became one of the most strategic fortresses of the Crusades by controlling the road to the Mediterranean.  In 2006 Krak des Chevaliers became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.I wandered around the massive fortess for a couple of hours encountering only a few other visitors. The sun was getting low in the sky, so made my way back to the main road to try and catch a bus back to Tartus on the coast.  Each time a mini-bus passed I gestured them to stop, but they all seemed to be packed, probably full of workers returning from Homs. It started getting dark so I was faced with either an all night walk back to Tartus, or try my hand at hitching- it was a no brainer…  There was hardly any traffic and after an hour or so I was getting desperate. Just when I was giving up hope a late model Mercedes pulled over. The driver, a well dressed forty-ish male wearing a lot of gold jewelry beckoned me into the passenger seat. I jumped in relieved to be on my way…He spoke as much English as I did Arabic, but from what I understood he was a “business man” from the coastal city of Latakia. He seemed and looked more like a gangster to me… By now I noticed we were up to 130kmph and climbing, and with one hand on the steering wheel he showed me his new mobile phone and offered me a cigarette. I hung on and dragged away at the cigarette as we climbed to 160kph…  I couldn’t keep out of my mind some statistic I’d read about the high level of road accidents in Syria-  but I was in no position (let alone communication) to ask him to slow down…  In half an hour we reached the outskirts of Tartus- the out going journey taking well over an hour.  He dropped me off at a taxi rank, we shook hands- firm friends now-  and with much relief I got out of his car…  Canon EOS D30/Sigma 17-35

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