Damascus the Beginning of the End (pt2)

I tried to put life in Syria behind me as I journeyed through Jordan; it had been a while since I had last been outside the country and it felt good not to be looking over my shoulder all the time, I did feel a sense of relief after checking into a cheap downtown Amman hotel, I have no great affection for Amman although filling up on Fuul and Falafel at Hashems is always a pleasure but putting Syria behind me was not quite as easy as I would have hoped.
My first reminder came during the night, I woke suddenly in panic only to find it was the noise from a nightclub in the next door building, my muddled mind was mixed up and for a minute I could not work out where I was, I am sure I heard gun shots, maybe I did, these kind dream induced mini panic attacks have been persisting until now, even here now in the cold light of day the sound of helicopters sends shivers down my spine.
I stayed a little too long in Amman busying myself with photography and meeting friends and was glad to be on the pre-dawn bus to Petra, now while I like to think my work shows a degree of emotion most close friends may argue that I am not prone to showing it, I am after all English so I guess I let the side down- the bus was dark and cold as I clutched a paper cup of stale Nescafe and cried to the sound of the only Lebanese women who embodies the essence of Syria; Fairuz.
From Petra to Aqaba in the hoof prints of Lawrence and that wonderful Arab revolt whose legacy is being fought over still. A boat across the Gulf of Aqaba to Sinai, through the mountains and over the Suez canal and onto to Cairo, along the Nile to the Nubian city of Aswan and back to Cairo and finally a flight to Beirut before the cab ride back to Damascus.
I met displaced Syrians at every turn, hands held out hopefully, clutching a Syrian passport as undisputed evidence of suffering, the cafes of Cairo, the Streets of Beirut and Amman most surprisingly of all on a small boat crossing the Nile to a dusty village not far from the border with Sudan, I had tried to put some distance between me and the sadness of Syria but seemingly that was not possible and now it’s time to head back.
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Nubian Crocodile Hunters

Nubian Crocodile Hunters

My life has not followed much of a pattern these last few years it has to be said, the odd and surreal have become almost real and normal, but here I am in a field on the Nubian Island known as Elephantine, adrift in the Nile of Northern Nubia, I am digging for worms, one thing does seem to lead to another, all I said to Hamdy was, what do you feed it, I was of course referring to the small crocodile I was now holding at arm’s length, Hamdy eyed me with suspicion, fish, obviously, I was only making conversation, in fact it’s about time we fed him, now the crocodile eyed me suspiciously, first we need fish food, yalla he beckoned heading into the furrowed field, I returned the croc to his cramped home and followed Hamdy, after successfully extracting dozen or so fat looking worms we set off for the river, when I was a kid I would fish the Thames, the amount of essential equipment needed would take an hour to pack and buckle my back, all my friendly Nubian had was a stick and a plastic bag of earth worms, we scrambled down the bank, skip over the rocks and board a rowing boat, a Felucca sails past the flagging sun and Hamdy baits his hook, casts the line into the water and lights a cigarette, we sit and wait, the world is somewhere else and its gone completely mad, at this moment fishing for crocodile food seems quite normal and perfectly sane.