Back in al Raqqa and resting on my bed, I recall the guide book’s description of Abu Kamal – a dull, border town – and rummage in my bag for my notebook to record my own experience. Not finding it, I search my pockets, look under the pillow, under the bed, getting more and more agitated, ask at reception. And finally accept I must have dropped it on the bus.
I sympathise with Isaac Newton when his dog, Diamond, knocked over a candle and 20 years of research went up in flames. Never mind that the story is probably anecdotal and that, probably also, he never actually owned a dog, the pain of loss is still unimaginable. I think all this through as I hurry back to the bus station.
“To where the bus, Madam?” asks the only driver who seems even remotely moved by my horror story.
“To Abu Kamal.”
“And the driver? What did he look like?”
“He was wearing a keffiyeh,” I say and the man shakes his head.
“Madam, look around. Please.”
I do and and of course every single driver is wearing a keffiyeh.