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Published: March 22nd 2011
Salah had a thing for lettuce. So much so, he blamed the wind it made him pass, on the banana trees in the fields. Or at least I think he did. Eating a whole head of lettuce in one go has not only got side affects but its got consequences. The side affects being that it makes you pass copious amounts of wind, the consequences are that the person sitting in the back of the taxi has decided to declare it to the world through the world wide web. Salah was our taxi driver for the day, and other than his denial about his flatulence he was a perfect gent. We were picked up by him at 10am for our trip to see Jerash and Ajloun. Both of these are in the north of Jordan and just over and hours drive from Madaba. The drive was comfortable, so much so that my partner in crime was able to catch up on some sleep. I’m forever jealous of this. Michelle’s uncanny nack of drifting off before our car has even reached fifth gear and then just wake up, as we enter where ever it is we have chosen to visit that day.
Jerash is one of the best preserved Roman ruins outside Italy. It is thought that it had a population of around 20,000 and the city thrived due to the excellent agricultural land surrounding it. The city contains all the usual landmarks contained within a Roman city. Temples, arches, amphitheatre’s & a hippodrome. We arrived in time to witness the Roman Army & Chariot Experience. Salah ushered us through the pay point and brought us straight to the Hippodrome. Now, I’d generally be concerned at the speed in which he ushered us to the show and considering the €12 entrance it felt like we were being forced into it, but he was really concerned that we should not miss it. He was just making sure we got in on time, as the show had started a few minutes previous. I have to say it was enjoyable and educational but the €12 charge was a bit steep. First up the military tactics and weaponry used by the Romans was explained to us. This was carried out by ex-soldiers(I think!). They lined up in different formations, showing us how they would wear down and attack their enemy. This is followed by
a battle between four pairs of gladiators. After each fight the crowd decides if the victorious gladiator should get to kill his opposite man. A thumbs up or thumbs down would decide a mans fate. The show finished with a seven or eight lap race between three chariots. We were invited to come down and get photo’s with the Roman warriors but decided just to move on as we had a lot to see. We walked through the ruins for well over an hour, passing in and out of buildings and up and down stairs. You could clearly see the tracks made by the chariots along the streets after years of passing through them. The amphitheatre was very impressive and the guy playing the bagpipes showed us how good the acoustics were. He was playing a song called Scotland the Brave, that though unusual to here in the middle of Jordan, it certainly suited the amphitheatre. We bought a Keffiyeh head scarf for ourselves on the way out. We would later discover the scarf Michelle had bought had created controversy when Rachel Ray ( famous from day time TV) had wore the same scarf in an advert for Dunkin Doughnuts.
The ad was pulled as the scarf apparently symbolises “Palestinian Jihad” as one American journalist put it. The Keffiyeh has become part of fashion in the western world and later on in our trip the would become invaluable.
We met up with Salah again and hit the road for Ajloun. Here lies a castle high up on top of a mountain, looking down over the valleys and near by town. A Muslim military castle, it was built around 1188. The cost of entry was only €1 and we had the place to ourselves. Its not well signposted inside there, but it does give you the chance to wander around and guess for yourself what it was like in its heyday. The views from the top of the castle are spectacular of the surrounding areas. We got an Arabic coffee on the way out which wasn’t bad in fairness to it.
We hooked up with Salah again and settled into the taxi for the trip back to Madaba. Twenty minutes down the road he pulled over at stall on the side of the road selling lettuce. He bought what looked like a life times supply and then washed down
one and got back in the car. In reference to the large quantity he had just bought, he looked in the rear view mirror, said “many childrens” and then rolled his eyes. He then proceeded to eat the whole head of lettuce. I soon feel asleep and woke sometime later to this odd smell in the car. Salah was looking a bit shifty in the front seat. He was looking at me nervously through the rear view mirror as I began to wake up. Unfortunately my senses were waking up too. He lowered his window and he still looked a little uncomfortable through the rear view mirror. I now realised the car was stinking with wind, and not the one that was passing through the window. I sat up straight and must have made that face we all make when you realise an odd smell. A slight lift of the nose and upper lip. Salah, in a bid to deny his head of lettuce had made him a bit windy, looked at me in the rear view mirror and nodded out the window, declaring “banana tree” and then made the smelly face. Salah, you don’t fool me!
Quote of the blog: “Banana Trees” - Ya right!
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