Monday, 1 September 2008

Pilgrimage from Darayya to Al Jibab 24/08/08

The constant buzz of mosquitoes drove me crazy last night and ensured I didn't get much sleep. I'd wake, smother myself in repellent, fall asleep then wake an hour later when the repellent started wearing of with mosquitoes biting my nose :( I really should have got it together to put up the tent but oh well...

It's 5am when I decide to get moving, feeling like I've been hit by a truck! The temperature is still cool and the highway is not so busy ensuring the walk is pleasant.

As the traffic starts to pick up I can't believe my eyes when truck after truck zips by laden with tomatoes. Like, literally every second vehicle on the road!

Where are they coming from???

I know the next 50kms is nothing but desert and everybody tells me from the border to Amman is the same story. Strange...very strange :)

Yesterday evening there was restaurants and service stations in abundance this morning is a different story. I'm greeted with nothing, nothing and more nothing. But the one good news is my old university is along here somewhere and even though it's summer holidays the teachers still have to work and I'm sure the cafeteria will be open.

The problem is on foot it's a lot farther from Damascus than I realized! By 10am I'm starving, every time I round a bend I pray this will be the last one and it never is, as I'm giving up hope and thinking I must have past it last night the big AEU" sign comes into sight! Thank God for that :)

"Ben! Ben!"

Snapped out of my daydream I look up to see a small truck pulled over on the side of the road. A woman's waving at me frantically, as I near I realize it's Sabaha and Abdula :)

"Hi Ben, we've been looking for you. You have come a long way"

Smiling "Yes"

"We are on our way to see some relatives in Daraa and we bought you a sandwich in case we saw you"

Oooooohhhh, champions!!!

It may just be my hunger but the sandwich is divine and washed down with a can of Pepsi I couldn't ask for more, what a treat! Some people are just too nice :)

Arriving at uni I'm disappointed both my teachers are away on holidays but the surprising thing is there's students everywhere! What are they all doing here during their break???

Finding a seat in the cafeteria and stealing some wireless it isn't long before some old friends recognize me and come for a chat. I find out everyone's here for "Summer school"....makes sense :) but noone can believe I've just walked in off the street on my way to Amman. They all knew this was what I'd be doing after I left in the winter but it's another thing to see it face to face...

It's great to catch up with every body but as time ticks away I realize I better get moving. Back on the highway I'm straight into a headwind, which is pleasant because it's cool but combined with the passing trucks ensures I'm constantly running back to retrieve my hat :( Makes for slow going...

Once again there's not a restaurant to be seen and just on dusk a turnoff appears to a town only one kilometer off the main road. Worth a try...

Two hundred meters from the turnoff a truck driver's delivering goods to a factory, I ask if they know whether there is a restaurant in town...

"No restaurant...but you will find I corner shop"

"Cheers" Better than nothing...

"But wait. Stop here and let's eat. Please wait..."

Opening the food cabinet on the side of his truck he searches around for any goodies he has to offer, emerging with a tin of meat, bread and some cheese. Looks great! :)

Setting ourselves up he joins me for a few mouthfuls but the other guy politely refuses...

"Okay Ben, I've got to go now. Welcome and enjoy"

He walks off down the street and it's then I realize he's not the truck driver! The other guy is and I have to stifle a giggle at the thought I've probably just been offered his dinner :) If he's bothered he doesn't show it and is still very polite, cheers mate :)

Continuing on into the night my bodies feeling great but it doesn't take long before I'm hungry once more. Around 11pm I spot a flashing light with a building next to it, finally I'll get to fill my belly! Pushing hard it's not till I'm almost level I realize it's a police station! :(

Rather demoralized I only make it another 200m before laying out my sleeping mat and calling it a day...

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