Finally arrived Syria. Was a bit worried in getting my visa at the border, especially since the movement against Assad jr. is getting more serious. But after many boring questions from the officials like ‘what you wanna do here’, some ignorance, 3 hours of waiting and 32 US $ I received the 15 day stamp in my passport. I guess they didn’t like the many visa stickers I had in my worn passport. Took them a while to realize I hadn’t been in Israel, one of their most hated enemies. On the other hand they could have also assumed I could be a journalist. Syrian visa fees differ quite a bit from nationality to nationality. Americans pay for instance 131 $, but wont get it at the border while Kiwis pay 111 US $. Russians for some reasons will get it for free, and there are quite a few Russians around enjoying the cheap prices of Syria.
I did not take the direct route on my way south into Jordan. But a bus ride to the southern border near Daraa City (the center of the uprising) should cost not more than 10 €, and would take just 6 hours since the country is small enough. There is an exit fee of 500 Syrian Pounds = 8 € when you leave the country overland. There are ATM’s throughout the country where you can withdraw money. This surprised me since this is not the case for instance in Iran or Sudan – I mean countries which are alos considered to be part of an axis of evil (refering to the words of former US president George Bush jr.)!
After 10 days I thought it would be wiser to leave Syria. Basically all Foreign Sate Departments had advised their fellow citizens to leave the country because a civil-war might occur! Anyway, I did not feel unsafe since most of the demonstrations took place mostly on Friday after the prayers. Only once in Dayr az Zwar, a town near the biblical Euphrates river, I had the unique experience of smelling teargas for the first time in my life! There were rumors that Assad could close the border to Jordan completely, which could have had happen any time – so I left because I didn’t want to take the risk of getting stuck.