|Commercial Bank of Syria and a classic car (As with Cuba, Syria's isolation from the rest of the world has at least one benefit.)|
For my small room, the monthly rate is 6,000 Syrian lira (US$120), though Ra'ife charges up to 7,000 lira (US$140) for the larger rooms. Once I had also paid her for providing me with lunch each day, my total came to about US$125.
Last night for dinner, I walked with Julian, one of the other students who lives with Ra'ife, to a nearby foul (فول, pronounced like "fool") stand. Foul is a Syrian staple dish of spiced, stewed fava beans, served with bread and vegetables. Julian confirmed that my bill of US$0.80 for the dinner was on the cheap side, even for Damascus, but also said that a fancy dinner out in the nicest
restaurant in the city, with a bottle of wine, runs about US$40 per person. (Forty bucks, of course, is the low end of things back in Georgetown.)
So far, I seem to be managing to eat just fine for under US$5.00 each day. Between the low food costs and cheap transport (the bus each day from Bab Sharqi across town to the university costs about US$.20) I think my money will stretch a long ways here in Damascus.