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Damascus [Dimashq (Esh Sham, Damas)] Nov [i.e. December] 5 Beloved Mother. I don't think I shall be off till next Friday, 12th, so that puts all the dates I gave Father a week later. There are such a lot of things to buy and arrangements to make. I can't do much, but Muhammad al Ma'râwi (he is my old guide) and Fattuh are hard at it all day, making camel saddles, laying in provisions and so on. Meantime I spend my days quite pleasantly. It has rained for 2 days which was boring but useful for future needs. Damascus is a sea of mud under these conditions and walking almost impossible. Today was fine and I worked with my theodolite all the morning on the roof and went for a walk with Mr Brunton in the afternoon. We walked up onto a hillside and climbed to the top of a minaret whence we had a glorious view over Damascus and its gardens, still brown and gold with autumn leaves, and then straight into the desert where I am going. I saw the little volcanic hills to the S.E. where I shall make the first stages of my journey and I wished I were already among them.
I have called on a good many of my Mohammadan friends and have been received with open arms. They are all extremely kind and cordial. There are one or two I still want to see but the mud has made visiting difficult, except in houses near at hand.
I have got much fatter since I came, idleness partly I suppose, and partly an abundant diet of sour curds which is without doubt the best food in the world.
I wonder what you are doing and where you are - it is difficult to think of you making preparations for Xmas! My love to Maurice - I hope he is all right. I shall have letters from you the day after tomorrow and I will write again. Your ever affectionate daughter Gertrude