DAY 240 - NOVEMBER 16, 2011

Fortunately--before it's too late--you come to understand that Bashar Al Assad, a few weeks prior, laid hundreds, if not thousands, of landmines across the Syrian-Lebanese border. You thought that it would just be a duck-and-go job, through a hole in a fence, somewhere along the lengthy line between the two countries. However, this is not the case. It's as if Assad knew you were on your way. You are informed of the mines at the last minute by a small boy who calls out to you just before you wander into the deadly brown field. In some ways you and Jeremy owe your life to this boy, Sami.  To show your appreciation, you unearth from your backpack a dark blue New York Yankees cap and place it on the Sami's palm-sized head before saying shoukran and backtracking down the mountain from which you came. You try to suss out a safer mode of passage into Syria via Lebanon but it's no use. With the roads overrun by Hezbollah soldiers and the border polluted with explosives, you see no other choice but to travel north, towards Turkey, in an attempt to cross through the border town of Reyhanli. You alert Michael of the new plan and he tells you sorry but that he is probably going to stay in Damascus. It's not long after, as you board a Turkish Air flight to Istanbul, that you are thinking what kind of heartless person lays landmines, anyway?  Doesn't he realize that some kid is going to get his leg blown off? From Istanbul you fly to Hatay and then take a cab to Reyhanli where you approach the border with the same sense as earlier. Eventually, after walking laterally along the fence with Syria, you find a hole big enough for the two of you to scuttle through. On the other side, you stand up to the leafy shade of a ripe pomegranate orchard. There isn't a gun shot for miles and the bright red fruit, along with a subtle sense of joy, begins to fill the width of your vision.