Ambitious Syrian turns farmland into ‘tropical cave’

TARTOUS, Syria (Xinhua) – For 36-year-old Hasan Muhammad, being a typical farmer didn’t quench his thirst for a real change in his career, so he turned his farm into what he likes to describe as a “tropical cave” where bizarre tropical fruits exist.

Located just outside the city of Tartous on the Syrian coast, various kinds of tropical fruits are planted in an eight-dunum land that was decorated by plants to become like a cave in the woods, which “teleport” the visitor from Syria to a tropical area.

The visitors enter through a tube-like pathway of green leaves that leads to a small lake with water lilies floating over it.

To the right, there is a bar-like table with different types of fruits festooning its front facade.

To the left, wooden tables enshrouded by green leaves were set up for visitors to relax and order the fruit dish.

Throughout the park, bizarre trees are planted for people to walk through them on wooden pathways and watch the fruits on trees, which is part of a trip inside the “cave”.

This tropical cave, which is more like a tropical park, has become an attraction spot for curious Syrians where they can taste various kinds of tropical fruits such as papaya and sour Topocho bananas. Muhammad told Xinhua his project started with a seed he planted in his farm back in 2013.

At first, he was criticised by his family and friends, who told him he can never achieve what he was dreaming of. For him, it wasn’t an easy task also, as he had to secure seeds of tropical fruits from friends and travellers in order to make his tropical cave.

Additionally, he had to experiment with the seeds as not all of them could live in the climate on the Syrian coast and said he used to read and translate articles online that explain the seeds and how to take care of them.

Muhammad said he has secured 92 different seeds since 2013 but so far succeeded 40 per cent in making his dream project, which he said is his passion. He said that he started to benefit financially in 2018.

“With the financial benefit, I was working to make a forest with a tropical environment to produce plants that are pleasing to the eye and water plants and birds,” he told Xinhua.

Driven by his love to explore and experiment with new things, Muhammad said he was pre-occupied with starting his project without even needing money at first.

“I created all of this and made the decoration and took care of all the details, so I was far from crisis because I was busy creating this place that needed patience and planning, not money,” he said.

To introduce his project to the public, Muhammad used social media to promote his tropical cave. Now, his Facebook page has 30,000 followers and hundreds of check-ins.

With all the success that he made on his own without any help, he said he still needs more time to decorate the place and bring more water to cool it off in the summer.