I encounter people who consider me a cynic on a daily basis. They think that I live in the past, unable to accept the tide of progress. So what, they argue, you lost the damn olive trees but we have dozens of cellular towers instead. You cannot go swimming wherever you please anymore, they tell me, but we’re going to have a couple of new marinas and five-star hotels. No point in reminiscing about a sandy beach stretching till eternity since we have the “Cornishe” where the sons and daughters of the wealthy can cruise and parade their latest model cars to the salutations of the police. Tartous was a stupid place “boring and humid” and now it’s on the right path to join the rest of the civilized world. The tourists are coming, they insist. They fault me because I want us to remain trapped in a time warp. Wake up, they yell in my ear, smell the roses, be happy, the tourists are coming, the tourists are coming...
I love progress, an essential for the coming tourists, and I’m not only talking about Tartous!
It’s great to have fine public hospitals and services.
Good roads to drive the fucking cars on.
Clean streets and operating traffic lights.
Neat buildings which abide by a code not written by deranged minds.
Playgrounds with safe slides and swings.
Hygienic bathrooms in restaurants and gas stations.
Waiters who use deodorants.
University students standing in line to pay for or to buy something.
Gentlemen walking the streets with purpose and pride.
Ladies showering before going to work.
Government employees not blowing smoke in your face while they serve you.
Street signs and street names.
People sitting in parks reading books, for god’s sake, and not drinking Matte.
Public buildings which do not smell like urine.
I cannot keep counting forever, otherwise I might really get cynical.
The first thing a helpless tourist may experience even before setting foot in Tartous is the stunning airport in Damascus? Where else can anyone see a porter and a uniformed policeman holding hands and/or leaning on a wall and staring at arriving passengers, bovinely smiling and cracking watermelon seeds with their front teeth??? The tourists are coming my ass…