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The most memorable trip I’ve experienced was my trip to Syria in 2009. Both my parents are originally from there, but I was born in America and had only visited Syria as a baby. I was raised here all my life so I was entering Syria as a foreigner. As I arrived at the Airport in Damascus, its capital, people I hardly recognized greeted me with smiles and hugs. I was in utter shock. These were my relatives which I haven't seen since I was a mere baby. I look over to my mother and noticed her smiling and crying at the same time. She must have felt overwhelmed with happiness after seeing her brothers and sisters. After our emotional greetings with them, we all climbed into small cars and rode our way to Jabal Qasm. It is a mountain that overlooks the whole city of Damascus. 

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When we arrived at the top, I could see the city lights as they twinkled in the night. Also on Jabal Qasm there was a musical train that blared famous Arabic songs. I rode this train with my relatives. When the train stopped, people began dancing in the middle of the streets, without any worries, as there were no cars passing through. Later that night when we got home we slept soundly in our aunt’s house. 



One of the most significant parts of the trip was when we went to the city of Ladeeya. Ladeeya is near the Mediterranean Sea. As we arrived on the beach I was astonished at just how striking the Sea was. It was the color of a deep blue -green that satisfies the eye with delight as it lapped over the shore. The sand was pale and covered with different kinds of shells. We remained there for a couple of days. On one of those days, I experienced a life changing moment. 



My aunt and two of my other cousins, Ralu and Noor, decided to go for a swim. The beach was empty; there was no one there but us. My aunt Rewada was sun bathing while my cousins and I were splashing away the heat in the water. We didn’t notice that there was a storm coming so we played near the shore unaware. Then suddenly a strong wave picked us up and dragged us away from the shore. We didn’t realize how distant we were until we felt no surface beneath our toes. As the realization hit, I started to panic. I bobbed in and out of the water. I flapped my arms around frantically trying to keep my head above the water, but the water was so strong that I gulped in a mouthful of the burning sea water.



As I continued to struggle for my life, my aunt finally noticed us and tried to call for help. My other two cousins were also battling for their life, but it was much harder for them because they didn’t know how to swim. As I was beginning to feel weak and tired, a miracle happened; A random man noticed us. He bolted across the sand at lightning speed and dived into the sea, ripping through the waves. He rescued us one by one, me being the last since I was the furthest out. Once on shore, I coughed out the swallowed water. The man left before we could thank him and all I know about him was that he was wearing cargo shorts and a shirt. I was quivering and my lips had become blue but I was ok. This is one of the memories I could never forget. And how can I? I was on the verge of drowning!



After that unbelievable experience, I still had an amazing trip. We climbed the mountains near the sea. We could see the country Turkey from the top. Things aren't the same in Syria as it was then because of political reasons, but I do hope that things become better and that you vacation there too someday!

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