Welcome! I'm Tyson Manering, an American who has been lucky enough to go on some amazing trips in the last few years. I'm currently in Syria where I'm teaching English and studying Arabic. Some of my recent trips include Costa Rica and before that a six month trip which included crossing the Atlantic ocean in a sailboat, three months teaching English in Syria, and four weeks sightseeing and practicing Arabic in Yemen.
This website displays my travel photos, videos, and journal postings. Besides keeping my family and friends updated on my recent whereabouts, I hope this site will encourage you to get out there and explore this hospitable planet!
April 17, 2009 | Aleppo, Syria
This is my third trip to Syria and this time I decided to come using a more conventional form of transportation: a commercial airplane. In 2007 I pedaled into Syria on a bicycle loaded with camping gear and a bunch of stinky clothes. In 2008 I sailed across the Atlantic and finally arrived in Syria after spending five days on a bus that crossed through Europe, the Balkans, and Turkey. This time I was calm, collected and clean, to say the least.
Without having slept for nearly two days (I can’t sleep on flights), I was obliged to attend an outdoor picnic/dance party in the ruins of one of the many old citadels located in the outskirts of Aleppo. I tried to wiggle my way out of going to the event, but in Syria it’s difficult to refuse such invitations. Turns out that the party was fun and there’s nothing that can describe the feeling of spending the afternoon amongst 2,000 year-old Roman ruins. Getting a good night’s sleep was certainly in order, but only after enjoying a fantastic Arabic dinner cooked by Jamal’s mother. Jamal is the owner of the institute where I teach.
I spent the last week preparing for my English conversation classes, which started today and went off without a hitch. I’ll be teaching six classes per week, leaving me plenty of time to practice Arabic and go on short trips. I’ve also found an apartment that I’ll move into tomorrow morning. My move-in date keeps getting pushed back and when my Arabic friends try to ask exactly when I can have the key the landlord just says “in a few days, En sha Allah.” “En sha Allah” translates to “God willing” and is generally used by the very faithful or when someone is unsure about the completion of a task and the uncertainty of an arrangement. I think my landlord is using the expression to express the latter. It can be frustrating.
Adapting to Syrian customs has been difficult over these last few weeks. In America, when you make an appointment with someone it’s a must that you are punctual. You only reschedule if there is some serious emergency. The concept of punctuality does not exist here in Syria. If someone tells you that they will see you on Saturday at five o’clock, you should expect this date to change several times during the preceding days and then, when you think that the definitive time is finally set, the person is still likely to be late or cancel entirely.
Every society has is positives and negatives. Come to Syria if you want to meet some of the kindest people in the world, happy to feed you with the best food and guide you around their local villages or neighborhoods. Syrians are welcoming and eager to please travelers with whatever they have to offer, however meager it may be. I’ve really been treated like a king here and I’m grateful for the warm reception every time I’ve come to this country. “Ahlan wa Sahlan” means welcome and travelers in Syria are certain to hear this everywhere they go. Syrians really mean it; there is no superficiality here when it comes to hospitality.