Hama has a weird atmosphere. There is the contrast of really old norias on the river with the rest of the town. These ancient water wheels are in stark contrast to the rest of the city that is just 1980s concrete block apartments. Out in the countryside everything gets old again. They even have beehive huts like in Ireland
Its only when I got back did I read about the Hama Massacre
The Hama massacre (Arabic: مجزرة حماة) occurred in February 1982, when the Syrian army, under the orders of the President of Syria Hafez al-Assad, conducted a scorched earth policy against the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Sunni Muslim community against the regime of al-Assad...
Initial diplomatic reports from western countries stated that 1,000 were killed. Subsequent estimates vary, with the lower estimates claiming that at least 10,000 Syrian citizens were killed, the majority civilians, while others put the number at 20,000 (Robert Fisk), or 40,000 (Syrian Human Rights Committee).
It has the same weird cult of personality photos of Assad everywhere that the rest of Syria has. And the same bird like men that are the security agents everywhere in the world
The parade was in the town when I was there. It was something like a Saint Patricks Day Parade 30 years ago and with better weather.
What has always stuck in my mind for some reason was one group of kids form a karate club who happily marched through the town happily waving coloured flags.
I see the the news footage now from Syria of the protests and the Assad regime violent response. I worry about those kids I saw years ago. Those kids would be the perfect age now to be angry protesting. I'm scared to think what has happened to them. They are having a march in Syria right now and its not nearly as happy as the one I saw.