“Have a nice life” said Mohammed, all of about 7 years old, as I left Palmyra’s famous Victory arch. I had bought some awful postcards from him, but the kids are not begging and tourists are thin on the ground these days, so you pay a few pennies for some postcards. He was still in place the following day and waved as I drove by. Wandering through the ruins I met an Australian couple who had been on a mammoth eight-month tour of Europe. They said each time they had seen some amazing site they thought there could be nothing else but then had found themselves in Palmyra, where they were once again in awe. Unlike the principal European cities where gizillions of tourists make entry into sites a waiting game, we had the ruins of Palmyra to ourselves. People are afraid to come to Syria. This view is often promulgated by people who have never set foot in the country and know nothing about it but this does not prevent them from opining. It is the lament of the Middle East in general and of Syria in particular. The region has absorbed and defied wave after wave of conquerors for millennia and the current wave of regional troubles will in time be consigned to a historical footnote to though one wonders when.