DAY 740 - March 18, 2013
Abu Aarif makes good on his promise and in return you give him 10,000 Syrian Pounds (roughly $70). He arranges for you to travel with the Farouq Brigade, one of Syria's largest rebel factions. Farouq is based out of Homs and is neither secular nor Salafist. They are probably one of the safest groups for you to travel with. And to your satisfaction, they also carry MANPADs in case Assad's planes return. You hop from city to city, east to west, staying along rebel-controlled roads in the most liberated areas near Turkey. You avoid Aleppo but turn south at Idlib and continue, under nightfall, until you reach Hama, just north of Homs. Along the way you ask some of the Farouq soldiers, in basic English, if any of them has ever taken Captagon. One man named Mustafa Omar, who coincidentally speaks the best English, tells you he has taken the drug before and that it keeps you up for hours. He tells you, in his own words, that it is the perfect respite for the shelling and drudgery of prolonged firefights. He also tells you that they could arrange to drop you off in Homs, but he also tells you that there is a rebel push in the southwest, near Al Qusayr, that will be monumental. He stipulates that there will, without a doubt, be Captagon present throughout the siege.
- Travel to Homs and plant roots. You don't need to immerse yourself in the center of the civil war. You make your living writing about people and circumstances not taking photos of dead bodies.
- Go with Mustafa Omar, past Homs, to Al Qusayr. Like you've always said, being in the right place at the right time is more than half the battle and if you're already along for the ride, there's no getting off now.