Year Abroad in Syria – Day #68

04/11/08

Day 68

I’m very proud to report that today I carried out my duty as an American citizen and voted!

Of course, it meant I had to go into town to the US embassy. It was quite a daunting experience. Outside of the embassy were dozens of Syrian policemen in full riot gear, standing at the ready in case of any disturbances. The US embassy is close to a number of other embassies and each have their own private security outside their own building, so all around, as if in some kind of stand-off, were men standing with AK47’s. It was also the first time I had seen the US embassy here and out of all the embassies in Damascus, the US embassy is by far the most obviously protected and secure, looking almost like a mini prison with barbed wire all about it. I finally found the entrance to the embassy and outside was a long queue of Syrians waiting to get in. All I had to do, however, was show the guard my US passport and I was taken straight in without any hassle. In fact, the whole process was really very easy and inside the embassy the staff were all very friendly and as a US citizen I found I was given first priority. The embassy was full of Syrians, applying for various consular services, and it appeared to be quite a novelty for the Syrians to see an actual American citizen visiting the embassy.

I had quite a funny experience at one point; as I was filling in some forms, I heard this thick American accent coming from behind me – I turned around and to my surprise the voice was coming from a woman who was wearing the full black Muslim covering or “niqaab” (with only her eyes showing) and talking with her child. That was rather unexpected.

Within about half an hour I had cast my ballot and felt very pleased to have done my bit!

I hope everyone else has a happy election day too!

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