And the Ensuing Friendships
Despite the Harry Potter-esque title of this, I'm not going to say that my "stomach turned" whilst I pulled out my "wand". Suffice it to say that at the hammam, there were several wands out as the loin-cloths that we were given to cover ourselves were quite pitiful. I've also learned a couple of new words - 'baksheesh' which means 'tip', and another which means sexy. The two weren't connected, so don't worry.
After my scrubbing I chatted to a few guys who were hanging out in the hammam - now I come to think about it, one of the more dubious places a group of lads could be found to be chillin' but I didn't mind at the time. They were all from the Uni of Aleppo studying various sciences and they invited me to hang out with them for a while. Naturally, I took them up on it and so me and the three guys trawled the streets for about two hours whilst they persuaded me in broken english to 'jump' any relatively attractive girls that we passed - my fears of rape were subsided when I realised they just wanted me to talk to them. Not really certain why I had found myself on the other end of a unwitting blind date set up, we continued until they realised that my profuse refusals to chat up random girls from the street ("tell her you english! nice, eh?") were consistent, at which point we decided to go back to the Uni, where we continued, at their lead I might add, to just sit and stare at girls who went by, with them occasionally urging my to jump these ones or those. Never mind Cocos, this was professional lechery. Not that I minded. We parted ways as I was pretty knackered from the night before, despite their most profuse protests and offers of falafel sandwiches (which was pretty tempting) but having promised to call them when Nic arrived. More leching to come, inshallah!
Since my expensive first meal, my diet has been nothing but falafel, fresh blended fruit juice smoothie things, and shwarma. Awesome as that may be, it has given rise to one crucial downside - buying a phone as my one does not work, the guy quotes something like 1000 pounds. I immediately (I say that, in reality it was after quite a while having to do the mental maths and so when I said it, it made little sense) blurted out "that's 50 falafel sandwiches!" Prices by the falafel - killer. A great idea as surely it would strip down materialism by the shed load - "That bag costs 2,500 falafels? You're joking"
Have left the Baron Hotel now - historical splendour mixed with indifferent neglect makes for a good bed for the night, yet a little expensive (160 falafels a night!) so not in my own pocket range. Walid comes up to me and wails "You're leaving?", adding "Your friend come stay here?" a little forlornly. I'd have been tempted to pull out a sympathetic face if he hadn't tried to charge me 7 falafels for a call to Nic which whent straight to answerphone. Old sly dog.