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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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

34.787109, 36.272121

Sat 11. [11 March 1905] We got off at 7.30, a mass of people in
attendance to watch our departure. It was a perfect day bright with a
cool wind. I had an escort of a Kurdish soldier, a charming party
called Mahmud. We presently joined another kluyal[?] who was
escorting 2 Ismailiyeh prisoners to Tripoli [Trablous]. They were
deserters. They asked me anxiously whether in India I had heard of a
Malik Muhammad who was the head of their faith. They said there
were many of their creed there. We rode through gardens for near an
hour and then crossed the river and got out into the great plain. All the
way we met low caste Arabs bringing in leben - they live permanently
in the great plain. In the summer the high Arabs come in - the
Hasenneh near Tell Mendil. They treat the low Arabs like servants.
The Anazeh come in after the harvest and pasture their camels on the
stubble. In the plain the people were digging out the Tufa stones to
take into Homs [Hims]. It was grassy and full of water at this season.
We rode on over some rolling ground till we came to the frontiers of
the wilayah of Syria and Beyrout [Beyrouth (Beirut)]. Pale blue
hyacinths grew between the stones, and red anenomes, daisies,
periwinkles, a low growing yellow hawksweed and a lovely dark
purple thing which I think was a hellebore. At 12.15 we came to the
place where we left the carriage road and lunched waiting for the
mules. Our path then led over lovely grassy rolling ground, partly
cultivated and full of flowers. Anemones of all colours, blue irises and
I found a yellow crocus. We stayed about 3/4 of an hour lunching. A
great plain called the Bka' lies at the foot of the hills on which Kal'at al
Husn [Qal'at al Hisn] stands. We had to skirt round it on account of
the mud. There are Kurdish encampments half Arab tent, half wall, the
people talk nothing but Arabic. 2 soldiers met us sent out by the
Kaimakam. We were caught in a sharp thunderstorm. The villages
on the edge of the plain are Xian, at Husn Xian and Muslimin. Got in at
5.15 and the mules 1/2 an hour after. The Kaimakam Abd ul Hamid
Beg Rafi Zadeh his family comes from Egypt where many of them
now are lodged me in his guest room on the top of the castle keep.
After he left me I washed and changed and let in the women folk.
They were his wife, a young very fat woman, an old Muslim lady and a
Christian the Sitt Ferideh, wife of the land surveyor here; a very
genteel person who had been educated at the American school at
Tripoli and talked English well. We all dined together and at 9 they
left me. I rode in by a big gate with an Arab inscription and up a long
vaulted passage, a shallow stair which led into the upper castle.

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