On May 6th 1972, or thereabouts, I was in Baghdad.
After Teheran we had gone southwest to Iraq; first by a pretty back road to Saveh and on to Hamadan and Kermanshah. In Baghdad there was a campsite outside the city. The campsite was green and you could see the thick reeds of the river away to one side. The city was ochre and felt quite modern if also ramshackle. The best part was the National Museum, a large airy building from the twenties which showed all the antiquities of Mesopotamia in glass cases with clear labelling in several languages.
The road on to Damascus was paved and in good condition but it went across the desert. There was a place to camp by a small hotel on the edge of the desert on the Iraqi side and then there was nothing for about three hundred miles. We had to carry fuel in our jerry cans because the distance was too great between filling-stations. The desert was often sandy and mainly flat. You could see great clouds of dust coming in towards you in spirals and sometimes we had to slow right down or stop and let them pass until we could see the road again. At one point I saw a small flight of black-winged stilts which had settled by the tarmac in the middle of the sand - perhaps they thought the road was a river. Eventually we began to see some bushes and then there were some trees and small settlements; before long we were at the Syrian border post and then in the outskirts of Damascus.
|Baghdad 1973: Picture by Roger McLassus, CC|
|National Museum, 2005: Picture by US Dept of State, Public Demain|
View Damascus in a larger map