Archive for the ‘jordan’ Category

a heat of biblical proportions

August 28, 2010

Jordan has somewhat of a reputation as a worthless sandpit that fortuitously happens to be home to a few of the Middle East’s most amazing attractions. The capital, Amman, is not one of them. To be fair, it’s not exactly held out to be one of the jewels in Jordan’s tourism crown, but it seems that the main way to pass the time is wandering up rubbish-strewn hills in 50 degree heat.*  We spent only two nights in town, long enough for an ATM to eat our card and to watch the mighty Oranje go down to those Toni & Guy-patronising Spaniards. Actually, I should mention that Amman is home to the world’s second tallest flag pole; North Korea takes out the number one spot – make of that what you will. The best time we had was unexpectedly sharing a meal at a crowded local hummus joint with a lovely and vivacious group of local women who took no end of delight in giggling in disbelief at the pictures we showed them of a chubby, cleanshaven Linds on his admission day – “That’s you?!” Invariably, it’s this sort of chance encounter that lodges in the memory as a true highlight. And lodged it has.

 
We did manage to team up with an awkward American and a Japanese pothead to do a day trip out of town. Winding our way through still acacia groves to the baptism site on the Jordan River, we both agreed there was a definite sense of serenity and hallowedness, although Catie still managed to inappropriately blaspheme – woops! – in the heat, which could only be described as having taken on biblical proportions.
 
It was then on to the Dead Sea for a “refreshing” dip which, given the aforementioned heat and shallow depth, was more like bathing in a sweltering oil slick, albeit with the undeniably fun element of irregular buoyancy. The excitement of posing for obligatory “reading the newspaper” photos was clearly too much for me; I promptly splashed seawater in my eyes – I’d been rubbing it on my hairline in a misguided attempt to halt hair loss – which caused temporary blindness and required the wife to tow me to the shore and douse my face with the remainder of our drinking water. 

 
In terms of the region’s tourist magnets, Petra ranks second only to the Pyramids and even a seasoned naysayer like me can’t deny its magnificence – well worth the investment of a multi-day pass. Fearing we may actually perish in the reflected heat of all that stone and sand, we formed a habit of getting down to the site at 7am and calling it quits by midday. Nevertheless, as we retreated each day for felafel and a cool shower, we couldn’t help but stare in disbelief at the busloads of daytrippers from Israel and Egypt arriving in the heat of the day, sans hats, dressed in their finest strapless tops and flimsy footwear. For the sake of the survival of half of Europe, someone really needs to translate the “Slip, Slop, Slap” campaign into French, Spanish and Italian.
 
Suckers for meteorological punishment, we booked on to an overnight 4WD tour of Wadi Rum, which involved us, three Danish lads and a pair of French mademoiselles rattling around the desert in the (mercifully, canopied) tray of a ute. Fairly spectacular, I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:

 

* There was a burger at the top, so it was all worth it.