Monday, August 13, 2007

A Visit to Saarland

It’s been some weeks since I published a posting because my normal schedule evaporated with Jordan’s dry summer weather. My summer began with a medical visit to Germany for elective surgery for my husband. Thankfully the surgery went well and the time I spent in the small German town of Saarlouis was a pleasant change from the traffic and congestion in Amman. Saarlouis, founded in 1680 by Louis XIV of France, is a quaint town located in the southern German state of Saarland. One can easily envision walls and fortifications that may have surrounded the town centuries ago, although they are no longer there except for the outcropping of small sections of stone walls here and there. The narrow streets in the old town are cobble stoned and one can easily walk everywhere within minutes. Early in the morning vendors sell fresh flowers and produce in stalls on the town square. By noon these shut and people begin to fill the small restaurants and cafes for lunch. I know that Saarlouis shares many charming characteristics with other small towns in Europe, but I discovered one amazing fact about it. Saarlouis belonged first to France and then to Germany. Apparently it was traded back and forth without much bloodshed several times. However, in the early 1960s the people of Saarlouis held an election to choose the country that they wanted to belong to. Apparently there was a lot of discussion and considerable discord, but in the end they voted to become part of Germany. How civilized! How grown-up, and certainly a far cry from the experience of the people in the Middle East!



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