Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Pilgrimage from Syrian-Jordanian Border to Thughrat Al Jubb 27/08/08

An early start to the day will do me well so waking early I try rather unsuccessfully to get it together. By the time I'm out the door it's almost 9am! Setting off towards Jordan I'm soon to discover the hotel is not actually in no-mans land at all. One more Syrian roadblock is left to cross...

"Passport please"

I hand him my documents...

"This stamp is from yesterday! You can't cross today!"

"What!?! I stayed in the Taj hotel last night"

"Yes, no problem...but you need to go get another stamp"

Now, why the fuck they put a hotel in between two roadblocks that can't be passed on separate days is completely beyond me but the guy's not budging. Taking a deep breath I take my passport and go to head back...

"Wait, I'll stop a car for you so you can get a lift back"

This cheers me slightly as it's a bit of a walk. Arriving at the immigration office and making it to the front of the line I explain to the officer what I need...

Giving me a look like I'm causing him a lot of trouble "Wait here"

I wait as he processes the guy behind me, then the next guy and the next...

"Sorry, is there a problem!?"

"Yes, of course there's a problem! You got your stamp yesterday and your still here!"

"Of course I'm still here! I stayed in the hotel 500m down the road! I don't understand what the problem is!"

"Do you have a receipt?"

"They didn't give me one"

"Well, I need a receipt"

Taking another deep breath I trudge back to the hotel, get my receipt and return rather unamused, but luckily for me with receipt in hand they are much happier. Pulling out a sheet of paper they fill in my details and with so many names I'm obviously not the only poor bugger who's been screwed around by this system...

Smiling broadly "Okay, you can go..."

Forcing a return smile "Thanks"

What a mission! Making it back to the original checkpoint I pass through easily and one kilometer later take my first steps into Jordan :)

There's always a bit of uncertainty in the air when passing into a new country...

How will the police treat me?

How will the military treat me?

Will there be a restaurant in the next 100kms?

Hitting the first Jordanian roadblock a soldier yells out rather aggressively. heading over they demand my passport and ask why I'm walking...

"Your from Australia! Welcome, welcome. Here, take a seat"


"You have walked from England!?!"

One of them rushes inside and returns bearing coffee...

"Here, please. for you"

The guys are great and we sit and chat for a good ten minutes. I go to leave and a soldier once again disappears inside returning with a big bottle of water. I only just filled up so politely refuse but not to be deterred he rushes back in, this time returning with a can of Pepsi. I couldn't ask for a better introduction to jordan :)

Clearing immigration without a fuss I pass the last checkpoint around 11:30, what a morning! But now there's only 90kms to Amman...and less than 200kms to Jerusalem!!!!!!!!!!!!

Everyone told me "Syria is hot, but wait till you get to Jordan!"

And they were right. The first thing to hit me is the temperature, it's hot! Really hot! So hot when I take a deep breath I can feel the sides of my nostrils start to burn! So hot I have to be careful not to burn myself when adjusting my grip on the camera tripod! It's hot!!! I'm obviously not getting far before evening, but I'll try...

The good news is though it's dry, not nearly as unbearably as humid heat and I find it's still possible to walk. Making four kilometers a little shop appears and I collapse on their balcony. I'd like nothing more than to wait here out of the heat and as I set myself up a guy comes over to chat. He's nice enough for the first five minutes but after that starts to drive me a little crazy. I'm too hot and tired to deal with him and after twenty minutes there's nothing to do other than bludgeon him to death with a blunt object or keep walking...

I keep walking :)

The next restaurant is great and with a big carpeted area filled with cushions I've soon crashed out. Wonderful!!! Wonderful that is until I get the bill. I asked the price of everything as I bought it and know the bill should be two pounds. The guy's telling me ten!!!

After a bit of an argument we agree on two pounds and feeling recharged I get into it. I love walking in the desert!

Stopping at Al Mafraq for internet and dinner I walk off into the night. By 11pm I've covered my 30kms and spotting a little hill just off the highway head up there to find a sleeping spot.

Lying under the starts is magical but as I'm drifting off I can hear some wild dogs barking in the distance...

Let's hope they don't get to close...


Jenni said...

oh my goodness,
you're probably in Jerusalem now!!!!
looking forward to reading the next (few) entries....
it has been fantastic journeying with you :)

Ben :) said...

hi jen

not quite :) in jerico right now about 37kms away. im going to take it easy and use two days to get there, arriving the 8th.

and yes, been a bit slack with the blogs i know ;)

thanks heaps for your support and cant wait to catch up again.