Another message from the road. We find ourselves in Syria at the moment, but we’ll only talk about Jordan so we can catch up.
Caught the ferry from Nuweiba in Sinai to Aqaba Jordan. Quite a modern affair with some big scary looking arabs on board wearing overcoats. Ferry ride was very modern and comfortable though. Sort of like Jordan really. A lot cleaner, more western, easier yet expensive. The police were better equiped too with newer “gear” and helicopters flying overhead as well. Had a tasty fish feed and also found a Cinnabons for a decent cup of “real” coffee (which didn’t go astray).
Next day off to Wadi Rum which was made famous by Lawrence and the ensuing film. Spent a night in the desert with some mad bedouins eating fire-cooked chicken and “singing” fireside songs. Apparently there are only 12 main families in Jordan which may explain their craziness and how everyone seems to be the cousin of someone else.
Next two nights we were off at Petra. For the uneducated watch the last 15 minutes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (we did!). We booked a Hammam (Turkish Bath), but just before we were due to go we found out that it had been cancelled due to water problems. Frank, Margaret, Anna and I smelt the BS wafting as did our Czech Hotel Receptionist, Valentina, so we headed off anyway with a plan to enter the Hammam boldly and start undressing. As we entered we were asked if we were the Simmons group. Honesty prevailed: “No? We have made a booking”. It seems the Simmons group had stolen our booking. Much bickering and bargaining but no Hammam. When someone called someone else a liar, the liar wanted to set the Tourist Police on us. They never arrived, like our Hammam!!
As mentioned Valentina was the source of much straight talking. Her view on middle eastern men was somewhat tainted by experience, but her candour was refreshing as most women are pretty reserved in their opinions.
Then off to the Dead Sea Resort, floating, bathing ourselves in the mud (well Anna anyway). The darkest skin she’s ever had! Every little cut/abrasion we had stung like buggery, but it was great fun “floating on our backs” and having a swim with the view of Israel just off in the distance.
After a short journey to Mt. Nebo (read your bibles – we couldn’t see the promised land due to haze), we headed to Madaba a beautiful little town nearby. The hotel had a pool! One of life’s little freak coincidences occurred when we ran into Rob Tong whom we worked with in London a few years prior at the hotel breakfast.
The Food and Mosaics of Madaba were a highlight.
Amman, the capital, was quite charmless and busy. There were some great ruins there to see, and we had Elias a 70 year old guide show us around. He had met Australians in the Palestine conflict when he had been about 12, and he kept saying “Dinky Di” and “No Bullshit”. He walked very briskly and was aided by very loud farting which was a bit disconcerting. He had us all chuckling. He told us a story about an Aussie soldier who got in a fight with a Pommie soldier and was sent to jail for 3 days. Elias got him cigarettes and helped him when he was released (“Where’s the pub!?”, apparently.)
Then it was morning in Jaresh. Amazing, extensive Roman ruins which gave you the sense of a real city with shops and streets. Not just your regular Tombs and Temples stop! They are still digging the old city up! The guide had a stoush with a French man here who was guiding his group. You need to use official guides in Jordan or you are in trouble…. with the Tourist Police. Words were exchanged. The French man was arrogant and rude (wow) and met his match!!!
Then we hit the Syrian Border.
More photos to follow soon but are having upload problems here in Syria.
PS: Bruno, we rode camels in Aswan, Egypt, and that was enough!