I'm here, I'm safe, and I'm healthy.
However it has been a frustrating first day. The last guidebook said to bring traveller's cheques; there are very few ATMS. However actually no bank takes them and there are in fact ATMs everywhere. So unfortunately a fair chunk of my budget is locked up in this pieces of paper. So that was this morning.
Afternoon: in search of a place to stay for a couple of months. I had hoped to stay at a monastery. This is a place that has 3 phone numbers and 2 fax numbers that don't work, and does not respond to e-mails. With a picture only of the front facade as my guide (no map) I ask person after person where this place is, supposedly where female students can stay. I get there in absolute disbelief. But no, no room for me.
This is a plain busy, dusty city. Imagine walking around inside a car engine. In Bab Touma now, much quieter, more sane. It is getting dark now, it's about 5:48pm, so heading back to the funduq. Day 2 will have me walking out to the Arabic Language Center, and the Danish Institute in Damascus.