DAMASCUS: JEWEL OF THE ORIENT
"A toast to the memory of the great German fuehrer," Fadhil Bey said.
"May he come to rule again!"
My head reeled. Where was I--in Berlin? What year was this--1938?
LATE in the afternoon our taxi rolled into the outskirts of Damascus, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. I had expected to find another Cairo--a repository of filth, flies, and grime. To my delight, Damascus was far different. It was 2,200 feet above sea level, cradled by mountains, cooled by an invigorating climate and blessed by a clear fresh river flowing in a canal through the center of the city.
As the taxi drove down the broad boulevard I saw a sight I had never seen in Cairo: a peasant was washing his donkey, which stood docile, knee-deep in water, having its sides and underbelly brushed clean. Farther on, along the edges of an irrigation ditch, a half dozen Moslem women in flowing garments and veils were sitting with their backs to the street and cooling their bare feet in the waters. I chose an inconspicuous hotel, a clean native hostelry called the Amawi, in the heart of the restaurant district, adjacent to the bazaars. Opposite it