Syria is a country in crisis, ripped apart by daily battles and intense fighting.
Waking to the sound of gunfire is never pleasant; when it is incoming and down your street it is particularly unnerving.
In Homs, every day starts with sniper fire. Every day. People queuing to buy bread or vegetables scatter.
Children start crying, cars screech into reverse while men and women gather what they have and head for the protection of alleys and doorways.
Nine people died at a crossroads at the end of the street we were staying in last week. More will likely die today.
Not once in four days in this city of 850,000 people did I feel even remotely safe.
Sniper fire and all-out fighting between government troops and the defectors of the Free Syrian Army, the FSA, is a constant.
All around are the ever-present indicators of being in a war zone; destroyed buildings, men with guns, checkpoints, the injured and the constant sound of crying. It is miserable.