Jordan, a haven for travellers, and destination for holidaymakers, offering a mixture of spectacular landscapes, historical sites and coral reefs, good cheap food lots of hospitality and no hassle. The Jordanians are particularly friendly and i feel strangely truly ‘on holiday’. It has been the perfect place to relax and get our bearings back. After two days of solitude and reflection in the stony north eastern desert, flying kites, exorcising our bad feelings, and celebrating Easter, we went to visit Asraq, a small town with a large fort chosen by us mostly for its remote situation. We stopped to get fresh fruit and vegetables and to give Giulio his first haircut at a barbers shop. I somehow felt the need to refresh and renew, but being a mother and wife am no longer free to go and shave my hair short, everyone would hate me and it would have provoked a family tragedy…so i sublimed through Giulio. It was a good idea (apart from the haircut that lasted one week before being remodelled with Lucas electric shaver) After chatting and small talk we were informed that the haircut was on the house and then we were kindly invited for lunch by two young students in the ceremonial house of their Bedouin clan.
The following day, we faced the Pakistani embassy in Amman with reticence, and our presentiments were well founded. We were courteously invited to sit down and soon after just as courteously refused our visa (again…)
In a state of confusion we were led to a communal park on the outskirts of Amman by a taxi driver who didn’t really understand our request for a camping. Hmm… Stuck again, but no, after just ten minutes a young man approaches our truck, he has been sent by his mother to invite us to his house just a little further on in the countryside. We ended up staying four beautiful days with the Abadi family. The children were delighted to learn that there were no less than two newborn babies in the house, tiny tiny premature newborns that were joyfully thrust into their arms. Giulio looks very mature and says ‘me good daddy’ but is soon distracted by a watermelon, Lusira needless to say spends the rest of her time assisting the women. Outside there are fruit trees, olive trees, goats and chickens in a landscape that could easily be Umbria. In the morning the Dead Sea is just visible, whist at night we see the lights of Gaza. Luca brushes up his Arabic and discusses politics with the family and guests called in for their English skills, whilst i learn to fold vine leaves and prepare ‘diwali’ with the beautiful matriarch Miriam.
The Dead Sea is at times surreal and at times beautiful. The various parkings are crowded with families grilling meat, men covered in mud and women bathing fully dressed amongst plastic bottles and other rubbish, all to the sound of an ice cream van that plays haunting, Fellinian music…..Further on going south we see a clean spot with enticing emerald water. I float for a few minutes, but the kids aren’t convinced. Lusira is petrified because a German gentleman told us that small children can die if they inhale the water because of its high salt content and Giulio cries for twenty minutes ‘culo,culo’ he has a few scratches and the salt burns admittedly like hell! Petra is of course beautiful, despite the hoards of tourists and exorbitant prices. Here we meet Frank, on the road since two years and the first of many travellers we will meet going south. A lone women motorcyclists with years of travel through various continents , a young Dutch couple in a beautiful old VW van bought in Namibia, freshly qualified students, business men, and other assorted vehicles, including an old Citroen AMI 8. Aqaba is a sort of junction and meeting point for travellers from all directions. We swap stories and information, exchange maps and plan routes. Computers are now part of almost every travellers baggage…and the wi-fi connection means that all can be seen dutifully updating web sites and blogs…not without difficulty. It is now 40 °C and the sea, the shade and doing nothing is a much more attractive option.
Tomorrow we leave for Egypt on the night boat. I hesitate to write this (our plans are so easily destroyed and revised) but here goes, after Egypt our plans are to go through Sudan and Ethiopia to then ship our truck from Djibouti to India…lets see if it will happen!