Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Syria: Illegal vehicles & plastic chairs

After leaving Damascus and heading north from Hama into the countryside, we began noticing very interesting looking trucks, usually with 'Hyundai' on the back, but nothing like any Hyundai we had ever seen. These were customized beyond recognition. In fact, we were to learn from one of the drivers we had hired, that they are custom built in Syria and totally illegal: not registered, not licensed: people just pay the fines if stopped by police. Some had hummer fronts; side panels that looked like, and every bit as beautiful as, Ndebele art motifs. The interiors were also customized with a highly developed sense of aesthetics. We learned that these cars are manufactured in Halfawiyah and have very powerful engines, usually Mercedes, and used mostly for trucking agricultural products or other raw materials. Here is a video of these

Other ubiquitous items included plastic chairs: every merchant in the souks sat on them, non-fancy restaurants, outdoor cafes. My favourite use of them was as carpet pegs: people hung their oriental rugs over balconies to air them out, holding them in place with several plastic chairs. Dark green seemed to be the most common colour, but we saw them in purple, white, brown.

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