Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Pilgrimage fom Al Jibab to Khirbat Al Ghazalah 25/08/08

A picturesque tree fringed lake, glistening in the mornng sun is the first thing to greet me as I wake. What Luck :) I didn't know a lake existed down here and to have randomly picked this place to camp is a miracle. Feeling incredibly content and peaceful I consider taking a photo but being a bit lazy doze off instead...

Opening my eyes once more I can't believe the sight in front of me...desert as far as the eye can see. The lake's disappeared!!! Should have taken that picture when I had the chance ;)

With hunger driving me on I make a move, shortly to arrive at Al Ghazalah. The chance of getting food at this hour is looking pretty slim, I slowly weave my way through the narrow dirt streets a passerby offers to show me a restaurant :) Ordering a big bowl of fool I'm in heaven...just what I needed!

A young guy spots me eating, comes over to the cafe and introduces himself. Turning to my host...

"What are you doing? He should be eating in your house!"

"House, restaurant, same same"

"I'll take him to my house then"

"But he's already eating"

Pretending I don't understand I absorb myself in my beans. An older man comes over to join us and turning to my host...

"What are you doing? He should be eating in your house!"

I have to laugh but start to feel a bit sorry for him, he has been extremely helpful and polite and now is copping grief for it :)

Of course noone lets me pay and as I head off the young guy offers to walk me back to the highway. Wonderful s I have no idea where I need to go. Passing through the fields I suddenly realize I'm surrounded by tomatoes! The mystery is starting to unravel...

"Where do you get the water from to grow tomatoes?"


That explains it. The far South of Syria has a thriving tomato industry based on ground water. Who would have thought??? Not me :)

Returning to the highway in great spirits the walking is a pleasure. Shops and restaurants start appearing again and the only concern I have is trying to decode the syrian street signs...

I've noticed that the distance to the Border is sometimes more than to Daraa, which I thought was just a mistake but it's starting to happen more and more often. If it's true it means I'm not on the right road and not heading to the right border crossing :( I really need to find a map!

The fruit stall workers ensure I don't go far without entertaining conversation and there's always a cup of tea waiting when I'm tired. AND they confirm I have to leave the highway to reach Daraa...not good!

The plan was to spend the night in Daraa, bus to Busra in the morning to see the old Roman theater then walk to Jordan in the afternoon. Right on dark I hit the Daraa turnoff and decide on a change of plans...

I'm going straight to Busra :)

Sticking out my thumb it doesn't take long before I'm 7kms from my destination. Waiting on the side of the road for another lift a car pulls up and I jump in...

"Where are you going?"

"Busra. Are you going to Busra?"

"Yes, problem"

Arriving at my destination and grabbing my bags I turn and shake the drivers hand...

"What, your not going to pay?"

Laughing "No"

"What, you have to pay, I'm a taxi!"

I'm not entirely sure if he's taking the piss and quickly checking around for a meter or taxi signs, I'm pleased there's nothing to be seen...

"Your not a taxi! Where's your meter or taxi signs?"

"Of course I'm a taxi! My car's yellow"


Popping my head out once again I confirm his car is yellow...

"That doesn't mean your a taxi!"

"In Syria ALL yellow cars are taxis"

Hmmmmm, I try to think if anyone I know has a yellow car. No luck. A police officer is close by so the driver suggests we talk to him. Sounds good to least I will ensure I get a fair price :)

The cop thinks it's pretty funny and before we know it there are about five cops milling around all joining in the fun. Spotting a yellow car down the road that looks nothing like a taxi I'm sure this will destroy his story that all yellow cars in Syria are taxis...

"Look, that car down there is yellow! Is that a taxi?"

All faces turn and reply in unison...


Shit! They're joking right???

Well, they aren't. With that cleared up we agree on a price and wish each other well. Lucky he also has a sense of humor and wasn't pissed off.

All I want now is to find a room, have a shower and crash out. Unfortunately all the accommodation is dorm style and none of the "hotels" have showers, just buckets of water in a filthy little room. Finally locating a place with a hose I figure this will have to do. After a cold hosing and a quick walk around the old square it's time for bed. One of my good friends from university, who was incredibly pissed off I didn't see her while I was in Damascus, is coming to visit tomorrow.

Hopping into bed I have the great idea of watching a movie, the problem is though, once I've started a movie I can't not finish it. And this movie is crap! Really crap. The one stage where it looks like it's just about to get exciting it ends! Bloody unbelievable...

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