I postponed my return several times under various pretexts. In fact, I didn’t really want to go back, but one has to fill in the tax form and go through nine months of mail. There is also the desire to see the friends who could not come to visit .

Marie told me I would miss the cherries and apricots and I could not give them up. There was no reason for me to come home so early. In addition to the fruit (the juicy, fragrant apricots, the amazing blackberries called “touts”), there are the fresh sweet garlic and onions whose consumption does not handicap social life. I didn’t mention the almonds that are eaten with their shell, sprinkled with lemon and seasoned with salt. But that was in April.

Another reason to stay is the sheer pleasure of spending hours reading under the iwan of the Danish cultural center, which is housed in a masterfully restored house in the old town. The iwan is the place to be in the summer and I have photographed it for you; it is a room open on one side. It’s not as hot because the sun doesn’t touch it. In the center of the courtyard, a fountain as in all the houses of the old city.

I was immersed in the study of the language, while being totally ignorant of the history of the country and of Islam in general. I began to remedy this deficiency with the books of the center’s library. 

I smoke my last arguilé on my balcony; I had totally stopped smoking when the only doctor I consulted here (it was before the exams; I was dying of fear and my blood pressure was having unpleasant surges), so when the doctor told me that water did not clean the smoke, that the tobacco contained molasses which increased its harmfulness, in short, that I’d better abstain, I complied. But smoking in the dark, in the evening heat… irresistible.

Arabic coffee and Turkish coffee

For nine months I ordered Arabic coffee without realizing that I was being given Turkish coffee. I finally have the recipe for the real Arabian coffee: a bitter coffee with a little bit of unroasted coffee sometimes mixed in and left to simmer for at least half an hour. This is the kind of coffee that is served to you in a small cup. In the street or in a restaurant, you will sometimes see a man with a large coffee pot with a curved spout offering you some. The beverage is strong.

I have already spoken about the Palestinians

To speak of a land without people for a people without land is really an aberration.

They show me the pictures of their schools, their houses, the class pictures; “we had a country. Our land was occupied by its inhabitants.

They are in a dark tunnel without a glimmer of hope.

And yet, and I didn’t know this until I came here, the Jews of the region are Arabs in the same way as Muslims and Christians. We tend to equate Muslims and Arabs; needless to say, the Turks, Iranians, and Kurds are not Arabs, although they are mostly Muslims.


Although I don’t regret the week spent with the human shields it only served to give some courage to the Iraqis before the assault; I have no news of the family I met at the Daura refinery. I could not find the Indian medicine that the cab driver asked for his brother and the internet did not forward my messages..

Here, we think a lot about our neighbors with sadness and dismay. The danger of an American invasion of Syria seems to be over for the moment, but who knows… 

In the podcast I talk about the Kurdish marriage

Proclamation of results at the Majad

Happy to have succeeded

Our diplomas

I will write to you next time from Belgium Tot ziens et illa liqa !