"It's perfectly safe, " said the man; "people cross it every day."
He had a beard so who were we to argue. And to get this far we'd passed the signs telling us about poisonous snakes, unstable dunes and not to litter on the beach. What could possibly go wrong!
"You go first," I suggested ignoring the principles of chivaly, "and I'll carry the bags across. You'll be better balanced that way."
So we set out across with each tentative step accompanied by a strange creaking sound and, from between the slats, the occasional scuttling of some beast - a beetle maybe a crab, even a mouse, We didn't look as it might be one of those poisonous snakes.
"Remind me why we're doing this," asked my companion through gritted teeth, "there is some purpose, surely?"
"Ah," I hesitated before plunging into the answer. "We're doing it because it's the only way. And we have to go over there because we're expected."
"Yes expected," I explained, "we're going there because then we will have done something and those expecting us will be happy with us."
"It will make some sort of sense in the end, won't it?" asked my companion.
"But it won't matter because we'll have crossed over by then and the very good and sensible reasons why we shouldn't will be unimportant."
"Are there deserts in Syria?"