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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper

33.7257889, 36.104236

Sat 4. [4 March 1905] Up at 6.15 and we got off at 7.30. My bill
enormous, 15 frcs a day for Mikhail and me. Tourist season!
Damascus [Dimashq (Esh Sham, Damas)] is full. But I was well
pleased with the hotel, all except the cooking which is bad. Selim
came in just as I was off to say goodbye. My horse mad with
excitement and a perfect devil kicking at every horse he met. We
rode up the Barada valley and I saw Mir Omar on his balcony and
exchanged salutes with him. I had said I was going by Zahle but the
thought of all the telegrams and preparations made for me filled me
with boredom and I turned off from the road and went up to Suk Wady
Barada. We stopped a quarter of an hour at the parting of the ways till
the mules came up and directed them. We have got a new little pack
mule and a kadish and a nice boy called Ahmed a Muslim from Suk
Wady Barada. Got to the bridge at 12.30 and lunched the mules
going on. Grey day but not cold. Nothing out, but the buds fat on the
apricot trees. Immense amount of snow about Bludan and the north
side of Hermon [Sheikh, Jebel esh] all white. Got to Zebdany [Az
Zabadani] at 3 - I had 3/4 of an hour off at lunch - and camped in a
delicious place under Bludan before one gets to the village of
Zebdani on the turn of the valley. A grassy stretch off the road with a
spring in it. The servants say it is full of robbers and have loaded all
their guns and pistols! Tremendous howling of jackals. I wrote all my
Damascus diary and here is the end, praise be to God! Not quite. I
went one morning to see the Tomb of Salab ed Din. There are some
good tiles in it. Also the Emperor's absurd wreath in a cupboard.
Selim told me that his speech at the tomb excited great amusement in
Damascus. Qu'allait il faire dans cette galere! said they. The original
cenotaph has been taken to C'ple [Istanbul (Constantinople)]. But that
of his minister remains. A very fine piece of old inlay - wooden. Then
I went to the tomb of Malik ed Dahr[?] where there is some interesting
mosaic, trees and t.... on a gold ground and acanthus leaves. The
tomb is in a fine old sandstone building with a great Arab gateway.
There are books stored in it. Mir Umar showed me a brace of
engraved pistols presented to his father by the President of the
United States after '60 in gratitude for his having saved the Xians. I
find I was always followed by a policeman whenever I went out alone
in Damascus, by special order of the Vali. Fortunately my goings and
comings were not secret. Mikhail saw him and asked him why he
followed me. He replied Ghasban 'an hu[?].

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