We decided to start the day with a hunt in the market shops below for a keyboard for my tablet. Ever the procrastinator I had bought a tablet with a pen function which I convinced myself would be fabulous for my musings. It wasn’t, and so I had another excuse not to document our journey. Roisin, who can always find a solution to my excuses insisted that we search the electrical shops and so we find ourselves on the busy market street approaching any shop or stall with Samsung in its signage. The owners were very pleasant and if they did not have English they called someone from another stall who did. I cannot imagine that happening at home. It is fair to say most young people speak English so they were usually called on to mediate transactions. Those who couldn’t help were still very polite and curious to know where we were from and conversations regarding temperature at home compared to Jordan. Finally, we found a shop and being shown the keyboard and asked for 60 JOD, I said “No, no foreign prices I want Jordan prices, I’ll give you 15 JOD”. The young lad looks over at the older man who is seated like a king on a throne at the back of the shop. The boy says “30 JOD” again I said “No, its a display piece you don’t even have the box for it, 25 JOD come on, agree 25 and I will leave here happy” At each haggle the young lad looks to the king in the back of the shop. Finally I say “25 JOD best I will do, you don’t want 25 I will walk”. The young lad looks to the king again and the king agrees. I’m thrilled I love a good haggle and now I am ready to share the details of the trip with the world. We walked further along the street and come to a stall selling bread rolls with every type of filling. There is cheese, curry, spiced, devilled chicken, ham, vegetable that will be heated when chosen. I am a little on the very nervous side in trying any of the rolls on offer. We have all heard the horror stories of eating street food and if it didn't kill you, you might wish it did for the discommoding it can bring to the body. I had thought they were just bread rolls and figured how wrong can you go with a bread roll. So now as we point to each tray “What’s this one?” the seller announces “Chicken” and puts some in the bag, “Cheese” and puts some more into the bag. This went on until we had 12 rolls in the bag and none of them were plain bread. We stopped pointing and asked how much? I thought this was going to cost a small fortune and we took out a bunch of money and ruffle through to find a 20 dinar note. He leans in over our stash and takes a 5 dinar note handing us back our 20. Turns out it was 1 dinar for four rolls. He took the money and gave us change. So incredibly honest, he could have so easily taken more and we would have been none the wiser. We chatted for a while and he asked where we were from and he told us he was Egyptian and had been working this stall for 20 years. We took our bag of goodies and headed back to the apartment.
At the apartment, we made some tea and nibbled on the mixed bag of bread rolls before eagerly getting down to testing out my new keyboard. I checked it had power. Everything was perfect and so I set to work. It worked like a dream until I realize that there was a problem with email addresses or dialogue. The "@" symbol is where the “ key should be and vice versa. I laughed so much at my killer bargain. Regardless, it works fine and its not so pricey that I’m afraid of breaking it or losing it so ‘a bargain is a bargain’.
We ordered an Uber (its a good app for Jordan) and headed out to our now favourite restaurant on Rainbow street. As we are traveling so much and staying just short duration of time in any one place I tend to stick with a good food place when I find it. The staff recognized us from the previous evening and we had another gorgeous meal on our last night in Jordan. Saying our goodnight to all we headed down the hill to our apartment. We were very relaxed as we strolled. There was a little traffic on the streets but overall the street was very quiet. As we got closer to the end of the street and more into the residential area I noticed a guy was following close behind us. I stopped to look in his direction figuring it is always best to see what’s coming rather than hope for the best with head down and walking. We stopped then he stopped. I crossed the road pulling Roisin by the arm and moved to the other path and he did the same. Grabbing Roisin by the arm again I make a quick return toward the original path and he went to do the same. I stopped in the middle of the road. I had no intention of putting myself or Roisin on some shadowy path. Center of the road, plenty of light and if a car did happen to pass there was a chance of flagging it down for assistance. I quickly turned on him, pointed directly at him and shouted “Enough, I am warning you to stop following us or I will shout Police! and that is international. Get out of here!” This I did in a voice just loud enough to get anyone’s attention who might be around but not hysterically. The guy starts apologising “Please lady, I sorry, I sorry” as he ran like the clappers up the road. The entrance to the apartment was just a few meters away so I made sure the guy was far enough away to allow us time to get inside quickly and safely. Relieved and grateful, I put the kettle on had the universal Irish cure for everything a cup of tea. I was grateful for the level of security I had seen in Jordan because I knew that if I had to shout police they would have been there in seconds and so did the guy following us. So all came right in the end. We were off to India tomorrow having had a wonderful time in Jordan.
Click below to read part two and three of our Amman adventure!
The first sound on our first day in the Amman apartment was the call to prayer which started at 5 am. The apartment as previously explained overlooked the market in the valley below and on the opposite side of this valley stood four Mosques, identifiable by there elevated towers highlighted in a green light. Mohammad, our Airbnb host, had told us that the four Mosques did try to synchronize their vocals but despite their best efforts each was out of sync by possibly milliseconds. This had the affect of creating this quite haunting echo which slinked away down the valley and over the horizon, then closely followed by the next line of prayer reminiscent of a Gregorian chant. It was spellbinding. Having listened for a while we turned over and went back to sleep.
We rose around 9 am, showered and dressed. I noticed the shower was very slow to drain but didn’t think much of it just assumed it was one of the quirks of the ancient drains in the ancient city. Going to the little kitchenette I started breakfast by putting a pot on the boil with the eggs that we had managed to track down on our hunt the previous evening. I went to wash the cups I had left in the sink the previous evening and not wearing my glasses I was a little confused about the black blobs inside the first mug, but I went ahead and washed it out anyway. On lifting the second mug and seeing the same discoloration I thought to put on my glasses and investigate. Inside the cups where hundreds of tiny little ants, in my shock I let out a scream which brought Róisín running. In a very speedy manner she identified the creatures and her analysis was “Oh cop on mam they are only ants”. So I did. We found the source and the attraction. The source was a tiny gap in the wall corner and the attraction was the residue of Róisín’s sugary apple drink which we had left unwashed in the sink overnight. We called Mohammad who was at the door in record time to sort the problem. Lesson learned, don’t leave exposed food or unwashed dishes in the sink if you don’t want visitors but you have to admire the diligence of these little creatures.
We decided that after breakfast we would head down to the market and take in our surroundings. So going out the side gate just off the courtyard we made our way down the tier of steps to the small roadway below. You better like hills if you want to enjoy Amman or, as I was to discover later, Uber will be your life saver. We passed a number of small shops not more than 4 meters wide and each stepped down from the last on this very pronounced incline. They were mainly service shops, a few barber shops, each beside each other. A man making hand made sandals and shoes which looked beautiful and I would have bought but for the journey we were doing and the limit on luggage space, I decided to leave it. We made our way down the hill to connect with the main street which was on level ground and heaving with people. We moved through the crowd attracting everyone’s attention as our chalky pallor made us stand out. Children stared open mouthed as we passed. I have to say it was a little unnerving to be the center of so much attention. The streets were packed with people going about their business. All kinds of shops were on this street, electrical stalls were all beside each other and all fighting for the same business. Furniture shops, bedding, tyres, car parts and all themed within a particular stretch of the road. To give an example, if I wanted to buy a mattress for a bed along this street there would be say four shops and each beside each other. I could only imagine that the haggle for a mattress must be cut throat. We walked along the street fascinated by the number and variety of shops. One stretch of the path had a number of sellers with what looked like old clothes, old shoes, old spectacles anything that had any useful attributes left in them were being sold here and nothing went to waste. As we went further down the street we passed some gun shops which to my eyes, coming from a country where even the police are not armed was a bit of a shock. The window displays didn’t carry any double barrelled shot guns that would be commonly used by farmers back home but had a full array of hand guns, assault rifles, and machine guns which fully challenged my understanding of normal.
We spotted the national museum of Jordan just across the road and decided to have a little nosey. The first challenge was to cross the street this was a lot harder than you might think. Pedestrian crossings sometimes mean safe for pedestrian to cross and other times you are taking your life in your hands. The problem is that its very, very difficult to figure out when the rules of the road apply and when they don’t. To cross the road is like being a moving target in an amusement arcade and my nerves were fried. I decided to just take the lead from the locals and run when they did and this strategy worked and we managed to get to the opposite side of the road. Museums can be boring but these are the homes of our history and our national identity and so it is for this museum. It is really well done because as you enter the museum you are directed in a particular direction which brings you around the display rooms from oldest to youngest. The directional discovery was made because we were going in the wrong direction and a guard came and directed us in the right direction. Although millennia of history is covered here one or two displays caught my attention more than others. So first there was the display of the different Bedouin dress. To the western eye they all look beautiful and exotic and until now I had no idea that each dress was particular to individual tribes much like the Aran jumpers design are particular to a family or island in the west of Ireland. The last leg of the museum brings you right up to date showing the huge strides Jordan is making in water conservation and renewable energy. Finally, there was an interactive piece which on picking up an ear piece allowed you to listen to classic Arabian poetry, I cant pretend to say I had any idea as to what was being said but there was pace, debt, drama, and character to the voice. It would put you in mind of our dear old president Michael D. Higgins reciting some ancient Gaelic piece of literature with heavy dulcet tones, again, no clue as to what’s being said but I know its deep.
We finished at the museum and made out way back to the apartment. Oh my God! The steps nearly killed me, word to the wise, when on steps having left the streets below there is no chance of hailing a passing taxi, that option was left on the street far below. Huffed my way back to the apartment and swore "money no object from here on, it was taxis up the hills" I would be happy to walk back down. Planned to shower and head out again but notice the water from the morning shower had failed to drain so texted Mohammad again to let him know. I could almost hear him looking at my name ping on his phone and as he recognized the name his brain goes “what now!?”. Mohammad apologized for the problems and asked if we would mind moving to another one of his apartments as he would be unable to get a plumber in at this hour. Mohammad helped transfer us to another room. The new room was fabulous with a kitchen, separate living room, bedroom and big en suite. This was one hell of an upgrade from what we had booked. This was perfect for a small family or perhaps if you planned to stay for a longer time the space would be appreciated.
We hopped into a cab and off to a restaurant we had found on TripAdvisor which had fantastic reviews. As the streets were so narrow in this part of the city most were one-way. Our taxi driver explained that even though the restaurant saw a very short walking distance he would have to go the long way around in a car. I didn’t care as long as I did not have to climb that hill again. Karen and Annette’s (my fountain of youth cousins) voices were ringing in my ears going “think of the steps Olive, every daily activity is an opportunity to exercise Olive!" Okay ladies I’ll think of the steps but I am not doing them. We arrive at the restaurant all fresh and shiny and all for the equivalent of a euro. Oh my God, I may never think of steps again at these prices I can Uber everywhere! The restaurant was fabulous and was true to all its reviews. Sufras on Rainbow street was a lovely experience with great food and service.
The next morning we realized that we had left a plug adapter behind in the old studio, Roisin went to retrieve it. She met with Mohammad again and she asked if the problem with the drain had been sorted. It turned out that there was no problem with the shower drain and here’s how we made our mistake. At home the stainless steel covers about the size of small plate in the shower that covers the drain is just that, its decorative and it covers the ugly drain well, here it functions as a plug. If pushed down or stepped on, as I did, it will stop the water and acts as a plug. Luckily I didn’t drown the place and totally bemused as to why you might want to contain 2 or 3 inches of water in the shower tray. Anyhow, Mohammad was very gracious about the whole episode and took it with good humour.
Read Part Three of our Amman Adventure by clicking below!
So we arrive at our final few days in Jordan and we spent it in the capital Amman in the historical Jabal district in the centre of the city. Luckily we had found a stunning place to stay and a great host. Amman is an incredible city built on a hilly valley. These hill are steep and on such hills the city’s homes are built. On every horizontal road there are strategically located stairs to bring you up or down to the next level, as you require. Our accommodation was in the old part of the city just on the horizontal between Rainbow street, with its restaurant’s, bars and night life, and the market street below. The property was entered through a door at street level and on descending a few steps we arrive in a beautiful court yard with views out over the city. This courtyard discreetly houses a number of apartments, again on different levels, and all for short term holiday lets, well worth a visit. Our first task was to find a supermarket and get some provisions. It was dark but we were just off a well lit and busy street so figured it was safe enough to go out and explore a little. It always takes a while to get your bearings and get a feel for a new place and its a little more difficult to do that after dark. We left by the gate and headed up an almost vertical street. My lungs were well tested and I was glad that I had quite the fags, so I was gasping and took it nice and handy, stopping every now and then to admire the view and catch my breath. You honestly would not believe how steep these hills were but on we went anyway. We made it up the top of the hill. The street was busy with couples and families strolling along looking for restaurants or stopping at ice cream parlours or coffee shops. Most of the women, young and old, wore a hijab which just covered the hair leaving the face exposed. This was our first night out on our own since arriving in Jordan and again I have to state I could not see any expressions of oppression on the faces of any of the women I passed. What struck me most was the easy relaxed atmosphere of people out for an evening just like at home, less the silly drunks (which is a typical feature of an Irish night out). But we are so indoctrinated by media in the west telling us that women who wear the veil are being forced to do so rather than choosing to do so. I really am starting to reassess all my preconceived notions. If nuns for instances were forced to remove their veil would that be acceptable and viewed as freeing them from their oppressive and dogmatic religious values?
We walked along the street for some distance and finally found the supermarket. Super it was not! It would have been akin to your small country store and not what I would have expected in a city this size. That’s another revelation, once outside the E.U, you don’t find a Lidl nor Aldi, or Tescos and not forgetting native Dunnes. We have become so used to these homogeneous super stores with more produce than most cities can consume. Okay, yes I miss my super store, where everything is in one place but just allow me a middle ground. We walk the one isle looking for some food stuffs to bring back to the apartment but the range is very limited. We can buy a very small jar of instant coffee, no self respecting Jordanian would drink such crap its only for the tourists. We find eggs. The cheese in the fridge compartment was like Easi singles, even at home I wouldn’t touch the stuff. I am very confused by the very limited stock. Since arriving in Jordan, all of the food we have been offered has been excellent in taste and quality so this shop has baffled me. We buy the few familiar things in the shop. There’s no beer only fruit juices, although alcohol is not prohibited in Jordan it is prohibitively expensive. Its also not a tipple for your average muslin so most outlets don’t carry alcohol. You can get alcohol in most fashionable restaurants but its not to be expected. We head back to our apartment and as we step out of the store we discover that the super market we were looking for was directly opposite...lesson learned, when following google maps do a 360 turn. Still even in this store there’s no comparison to what you would expect at home. This store was on par with the local country village corner shop you would be familiar with at home. It had 4 aisles and so more variety but still nothing on scale to our stores at home. We bought a few more bits and headed back to the apartment. When we got there I made myself a coffee and had some biscuits while Roisin had a lovely bottle of fizzy apple juice. Before heading off to bed, I put the few dishes used into the sink with the intention of washing them in the morning. I will pay for that slothfulness later.
Read Amman Part two by clicking the button below!
We drove down from the mountains towards Aqaba to the Red Sea. From where we are standing, we can see across to Egypt, however, it was a cloudy day so we could not see the coast of Saudi Arabia as our driver pointed out. It was impressive to look back and see the journey we had made over the mountains, day three of this tour and so much ground covered already! We stopped in Aqaba for snacks and coffees and our driver did suggest that we could visit a craft shop if we wanted. He suggested that if we did want to purchase traditional hand crafted souvenirs Aqaba had the best prices as it was a tax free zone. He would also stand by the quality and authenticity of the shops he would bring us to guaranteeing that the products were made in Jordan rather than cheap imports. If I were looking to buy souvenirs I would have totally trusted the directions of our driver, however, I kindly declined the offer as we had a long onward journey and couldn’t add more weight to our hand luggage. I’m traveling with a 60 L rucksack which every time I think of moving from one destination to another I just want to cry. I am no hippie, I love stuff. I am a 58 year old women who is not trying to experience the world as a backpacking 20 year old.
We leave Aqaba heading towards the Dead sea resorts and this part of the journey will take about 2 hours. As we drive the border highway we can see the Israeli border patrols and the barbed wire fencing, much like Northern Ireland and the Republic until the signing of the Good Friday agreement back in 1998. There is a stretch of no-mans-land between the Israeli patrol fence and the main road. Our driver tells us that although there appears to be nothing in that space that if we decided to start walking towards the border from the road, soldiers and Jeeps would appear out of the sand dunes and stop you.
It takes around two hours from Aqaba to reach the Dead Sea resorts. The sea is so salty that nothing lives in it and the density of the water so thick that it is impossible to sink. The hotels here function at the highest level to ensure that guests have the best possible experience when visiting the Dead Sea. I can only image that it reflects the old spa towns where people went to take the waters but rather than drink it you smother yourself in the mud and float for not more than 30 minutes. We were advised to not spend more than 15 minutes at a time in it as it would start to sting the skin so best to take a break in between each swim. You can buy a day pass for any of the resorts. We were brought to the Holiday Inn, which in Europe is a budget hotel but here it is very opulent. I was really taken aback at the interior of this building; gold, chrome, and marble everywhere. We had lunch before taking to the Dead Sea water. Lunch was a buffet with an endless variety of dishes to choose from and none of them being roast beef or fish and chips but there is enough choice even for the fussiest palette. The layout of this resort was beautiful and immaculate. The sea levels are dropping and so you can see from an illustrate chart where the water line was in the eighties as opposed to now and the drop is dramatic. Clearly, the hotels have had to extend their facilities to match the drop so the walk down is a bit of a distance. On different tiers there are sun loungers and seating areas to ease the return journey from the sea. It is beautifully done but I have to admit I didn't fancy taking a mud bath so stayed on the upper levels and took in the view. What a lovely afternoon! Róisín did the full ritual of covering herself in the Dead Sea mud and washing it off in the water. There are areas just slightly set back from the water where huge wooden buckets are filled with the precious mud and there you stand applying this mud, once fully covered you enter the water and float for a respectable length of time to emerge 10 years younger, Roisin went from 22 years old to 12 years! Joking aside, these facilities are exceptionally designed with everything you might need to enjoy this experience and beautifully done. You have changing rooms, towels, pools, out door showers, indoor showers, sun loungers, tables, chairs, swimming pool and waiters to keep you supplied with cool beverages and all on a day pass. At sun down there is no lingering because of border patrols no one is allowed in the water after dark and our driver assured us it is strictly monitored. We had a lovely afternoon there and Roisin has assured me it is an experience she would happily repeat. Perhaps if we had gotten there earlier I might have ventured in but after lunch I really couldn’t be bothered despite that I would happily return and spend a few days here. It is beautiful and very peaceful resort. We left the Dead Sea at dusk and headed back to Amman.
I had managed to book an apartment on Airbnb which had fabulous reviews and having spent so many days in hotels I really craved some home like space, at least a kitchen that I was free to use. We planned to spend three days there, figuring we could have some home cooking, do some laundry and generally take a breather before the next leg of the journey. It’s the 11th of December and we have covered a lot of ground in a very short space of time and that does wear you down after a while. 12 days into this mammoth trip, I was beginning to wonder if I had the stamina for it, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and my travel insurance would repair or repatriate my body.
We arrived in Amman after dark and our driver had checked out the place we had booked and assured himself it was a safe place. The property was in the old part of the city and our driver met with Mohammad (our Airbnb host) and deposited our bags and ourselves into his care. We said our goodbyes to our wonderful driver/guide, and can I state to all interested in touring Jordan do so with ‘Mr. See You Tomorrow’ from Jordan Private Tours and Travel (l have attached the link at the end of this post). He seemed to know everyone, and everyone who knew him were delighted to see him. He turned what could have been a most stressful experience into the start of a wonderful adventure. Most importantly he gets the Irish sense of humour and enjoys the craic! Had some great chats along our journey and I never felt that my cultural questions might have caused offense. This country is very different to my own and I am the stranger here so I cant help but generate questions. So, Thank you ‘Mr. See You Tomorrow’.
Link for Jordan 3 Day Tour: https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g293986-d11467867-3_Day_Private_Tour_from_Amman_Petra_Wadi_Rum_Dana_Aqaba_and_Dead_Sea-Amman_Amman_G.html
Wadi Rum is a desert valley. This landscape was used in many science fiction movies to depict Mars. Although, this is a protected environment many of the local Bedouin tribes have developed Bedouin style camps which tourists can hire to stay for a night or more. We drove into the Wadi Rum desert just as the sun was setting. The landscape was nothing like I have seen before, I could see why many science fiction movies (Star Wars and the Martian) would film here for an out of this world effect. Our tour guide quickly brought us to our tent. Up to this point I was a little uneasy about the idea of sleeping under the stars by the way Róisín had described it to me. The thought of a sleeping bag and a carpet between me and the sand which to my mind was filled with scorpions and snakes and killer spiders, well honestly, I was not looking forward to it. We passed a few of these camps in the valley and it was clear to me that this is big business here, but we eventually got to our camp. The car is parked and we are quickly guided through a covered walk way to a bustling camp at the end. This was not what I had expected. This was a very well organised and professional resort similar to any luxury tourist resort that you might find on the French or Spanish coast. But this resort was developed around the Laurence of Araba romanised version of desert living with no hardship to be seen anywhere. We were indeed glamping!
We went through the common area with a big open camp fire with chairs surrounding it's flames for anyone to sit on. Our guide pointed out the canteen on an elevated building over to the right and told us to meet back there for 7 pm dinner. Via a paved and well lit pathway we were guided to our tent by the porters carrying our bags. There was a wooden door to the side of the tent and as you go in you realize there is a solid concrete foundation with no little critters underfoot. It only got better from there. This is more like glamping than any canvass stretch tent I had been imagining. Inside the walls, ceilings and floors are covered in heavy woven fabric in the style of the classic Prussian rugs we so covet in the west. There is a coffee table, sofa, super king size bed, lamps and believe it or not air conditioning! The cherry on the cake was the en suite with sink, loo and shower. Finally, the curtains are drawn back to reveal a huge window facing out onto the desert with the sun sinking in on the horizon. We rested there for an hour before heading to the canteen for dinner. When we had arrived at 4.30 pm we were the only tour to have arrived but now and for the past hour many tour buses and groups had arrived. Our guide thought it a bit of a waste not to get to the desert before sundown as you were missing a big part of the experience and I would entirely agree.
We arrived at the canteen but we were not allowed enter immediately. Instead we were directed to what I can only describe as a big sand box to the side of the canteen. Roisin, the other camping guests, and I stand waiting to see what was to be revealed. The chefs start to dig in a few places around the pit and within a few minutes they have reached the hot coals below the sand and push these aside. Two chefs slot a long pole through a handle protruding from the ground where the hot coals had been. They then haul from the ground this circular cake stand style BBQ with each section having joints of lamb and whole chickens cooked to perfection, succulent and juicy, ready for our dinner. We had a buffet style dinner with lots of choice and plenty for all. Although there was entertainment we had had a long day and decided to head back to our tent as we had an early start in the morning.
Morning came and we had left the curtain open so the we could see the first rays of the morning sun light up the desert. It wasn’t difficult to imagine you were on mars as the sun rose to highlight the blood red sand dunes all around. We got ready and packed up before heading back to the canteen where we had a self service breakfast. Our guide organized a porter to collect our bags and bring them from our room to the car. We tipped the porters, said goodbye to our hosts and headed out into the desert to meet our drivers for our next desert adventure.
The drive from the camp site to Wadi Rum village was very long. We arrived at a car park and there we were transferred from our tour guide's car to the Wadi Rum Jeeps. Only the members of the tribes, those who live in the Bedouin area can drive in this protected area. The community control all business activities relating to desert commerce and fair play, say I. In Petra when the area was named a UNESCO World Heritage site the locals were moved and given homes nearby. Petra is operated as a government project and so all funds go back to government. I can not help but feel the government got the best of that deal in Petra so it is a real pleasure to see that the ownership and development of the Wadi Rum desert is beneficial to the locals. Arriving at the car park the younger passengers climb into the back of the jeep and turn around to help pull me on board. I think our driver was a little surprised that I planned to sit on top and outside the vehicle. He asked if I would prefer to sit inside out of the cold but having already made the effort I chose to stay where I was, this I would regret.
We took off into the desert going at full speed across this wide open plain. Passing a caravan of camels with one rider on top leading five camels across this red desert plain looked like something from an old black and white movie but this was in colour and live! I really don’t care if this was put on for the tourists. If it was a show, thank you very much as it was worth the performance. I think perhaps it was a local leading his camels to the Bedouin camp for tourists to hire but at this hour it was a picture straight out of a story book. A sandstorm was blowing and for about the 30 minutes of our trip we were truss up like a re-enactment of the Madmax movie which should also go some way towards explaining my regret at not having gotten into the interior of the jeep. We were brought to a number of scenic locations and given the opportunity to take some photos. Roisin climbed mountainous sand dunnes and cliffs, I stayed comfortably in the car sipping on Bedouin tea. We stopped at Khazali Canyon which is a canyon with impressive inscriptions on the inside walls. Not being one for heights and figuring my luck would see me fall off and break a leg which make the rest of the journey difficult, I decided to stay on solid ground. I found a little nice cleft in the rock face and waited for Roisin’s return. While sitting there a young couple arrived with there children and their grandmother. She, like I, had decided to let the young ones take the hike and that she would join me. This woman dressed in a Chador, with only her face exposed, strikes up a conversation with me about the height, the dangers, and how it was best to stay on level ground. She did not speak English and I did not speak Arabic and yet we both understood the conversation. I have met many women in full traditional Chador dress and none of them have seemed oppressed as western media has trained me to believe. To date I have found them to be the most open and welcoming of women, eager to exchange a good morning or good evening, if that’s all the language we have in common.
At Lawrence Spring I needed to make the effort to get down from the back of the jeep, and here comes a courtesy I had not expected. The driver reversed the jeep to a low wall so that I could use it as a step for ease of ascent. So very kind and considerate. We went to the spring and our driver showed us some cave drawings high up on the wall and explained how those were authentic, whereas the ones lower down were done by the locals to increase tourism. Ah, you have to admire the enterprise of it all. Reminds me of that Glen Roe episode and the bogus free range eggs. On returning to the vehicle the same maneuver was preformed and I climbed onto the back of the jeep from a low wall followed by my two co-travelers. The tow bar of the jeep lowered onto the wall which was stuck as we started to pull away from the weight of all three of us. What do I love about our driver? Well he stopped the car and made the two little ones get out and told me to remain sitting. What a gent!
There was much climbing and clambering over rocks which I left to the young ones with clear instructions to bring back the best pictures. We toured the desert for approximately 2 hours and headed back to the car park for the next leg of the journey, which would take us along the border towards the Dead Sea.
Hi, I'm Olive and I am the writer of this blog. I am traveling the world with my 22 year old daughter, Róisín, who has just graduated University. I wanted to document this journey because it is unusual for a woman of 58 years old to go on adventure that most students do on a gap year. I will try to share my insights into this epic journey with you along the way and maybe inspire more people my age to go on these crazy adventures too.