Syrian Memory #2
The Umayyad Mosque, the third holiest place in the Muslim religion (and the site has been a holy place for thousands of years: a temple to Haddad, and then Jupiter, A Greek Orthodox Church supposedly harboring the head of John the Baptist) is awe-inspiring-- fields of polished marble, walls of mosaics, and a monumental mosque housing a Shrine to Hussein (Mohammad's grandson) where Shiites were busy kissing a grate . . . the area was so holy that you couldn't wear your shoes, so I left my old stank Nikes in a pile of other shoes by the door, but when I returned, they had been stolen-- obviously the person who stole them didn't know that this was the third holiest place in the Muslim religion-- and then, conveniently, there was a youngster outside the gates of the mosque who took a quick look at the white man in his socks and immediately led me to the shoe souk-- where I'm sure he received a commission-- and his cousin sold me the crappiest pair of sandals in the Middle East.