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Published: December 8th 2018
Day 18: 'Dougie at the Mosque' is how I shall remember today. While a quick tour of Doha was good (and eerily quiet of tourist's), and having company (Kaitlyn) helps majorly with logistics, I think my 40 minutes with 'Dougie the converted' will resonate for years.
Entered the national mosque to be met with dismissive Arabians who said I cannot enter due to my shorts being 2cm too high - a lower waistband in it by my reckoning.
Then my Lord and saviour, Dougie from Surrey, comes out and says he'd take on the burden of potential backlash from elders. Thick British accent, grey-browny hair to the top of shoulders and strawy beard (no moustache though). Surprisingly colloquial chat, but great to learn about the place. Then the speakers roared into action and the chat was abruptly ended to then sit on a bench in silence while I listened to the spiritual Arabic tones.
Cue, the conversion attempt. Catholic reject backstory, African travel inspiration, period of research, affirmation and acceptance, middle-eastern scouting story and 10 years in Qatar, challenging family dynamic, all sprinkled with pointers to the illogical flaws of Christianity.
Sublime presentation nevertheless, and a genuinely
insightful experience on a topic I know little about.
Day 19: First day in Jordan. Hummus and olives for breakfast, mirroring the dinner I'd had 10 hours earlier. The taxi driver (50 years old, 6 kids) on the way to historic ruins of Jaresh was a good sort. Playing Post Malone, lil uzi vert and other western hits inbetween the Jordanian classics. Traffic is chaotic to put it bluntly - can't wait to get amongst it in the coming days.
That said, amazing street life. Good food - fantastic desserts. The people are incredibly welcoming to their country, and polite.
Day 20: The rental car arrived with an empty fuel tank, making the navigation of Amman's tight roads a little more exciting. A classy Kia sedan didn't quite match the promised Hyundai Getz, but I'm seeing it as upgrade. Headed down the first stretch of Jordanian motorway with relative ease to arrive at the Dead Sea. Was an odd feeling, both the buyant experience and the fact Israel (Palestine to most locals) was within throwing distance. Nevertheless, a feeling I doubt I'll forget.
Also, tonnes of stray cats and dogs knocking around. And herds of goats
Atop of Jaresh
roaming the motorway.
Day 21: Winding, undulating, tarmac took the old Kia through the desert mountains and up towards Petra. Best driving road I've experienced. The afterglow slightly undone by the realisation I'd left me passport at the Dead Sea 3 hours down the road, but nothing a well connected hotel owner and 50 bucks couldn't fix before dinner time!
Stumbled into a local bakery, whereby my vice was secured for the coming days. An unreal amount of sugar is put into everything here. in love with the bakeries out here.
Petra by night was cool. Two dogs had a fight during the presentation. Touch of rain. Plenty of idiot tourists to watch and listen to. That aside, the first impression of the Treasury certainly lived up to expectations. Quite a marvel how the constructed the city over 2000 years ago.
Day 22: Petra by day. 6am start in the rain, which led to four of us (the early morning idiots some would say) in a tent under the Treasury for tea by 6.30am. As the rain moved on, spent a good 6 hours exploring the elevations amd trails of the magical place. Simply surreal seeing
Amman: King's temple
families live 'on site' as original inhabitants likely would. Herds of goats, cave beds and all.
Wrapping up by mid afternoon, headed down the desert highway to be picked up by a 14 year old driving and beaten up Toyota Hilux. And into the Wadi Rum desert we went. Nor did he hang around.
Nevertheless, it's a odd, and fascinating, place to experience. With weathered sand stone mountains emerging from the orange sand rather suddenly, it makes for an impressive visual. The dark night skies also rivalled those of Namibia
Day 23: Started the day out with a camel ride, where I found myself envisaging Lawrence of Arabia do a similar activity all those years ago. His former house was around the corner in fact. Went on to jump on the back of Mohammad's Hilux and enter the depths of Wadi Rum itself. Already felt slightly safer than with the mute 14 year old..
Cracking guide, who couldn't have been much younger than myself. By lunch time I'd been offered a Jordanian girlfriend, and gained insight to how that could lead to a happy life of 4 wives, joining the 10 year old smokers and having
Amman and giant flag
around 35 kids... all going well. Rumour has it the Wadi Rum village was founded by one family and now has 2500 members.
Got to drive the car myself a couple of times as well, go sandboarding off the back (on a rather makeshift contraption), and ended the day with a cracking cup of tea with the sunset. All followed by attempting the local flavour of dance with the locals. Really starting to enjoy the region's music scene as well.
Day 24: An easy 8 hours driving up the Kings highway back to Amman today. Plenty of close calls in the towns, but the car was returned in one piece. Some tense moments as the sun went down, and the street lights and some headlights failed to ignite, adding a couple of dimensions to navigating the very faint centre lines.
In saying that, while hairy at times, parts of the route highlighted why Jordan is one of the best countries to drive around. Huge extensions of hairpin bends snake their way up steep valley walls. Rather epic at sunset. The route also continued the trend of comical and bizarre translations and names. Chicken breast biscuits a notable head
And now I'm sitting in the airport for 11 hours as I wait for a 5am flight to Morocco. Praise be for free WiFi and philosophical debates.
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