Mediterranean Cycopaths

Arabian Knights

10th March 2007

With tickets secured for the 3pm “super-fast” Nuweiba to Aquaba ferry we had lusty ambitions of a 4pm Jordan arrival. Alas like Ying with Yang, my ruggedness with Jon’s soft touch and all other twinned, yet converse elements it seems in these parts any “super-fast” service must be coupled with man’s most inefficient bureaucratic processes in order to maintain some unseen natural balance. Thus, heading into town well after nightfall we were grateful at least that we hadn’t arrived at the ferry terminal at 11am like some of our fellow travellers.

Wearisome entry procedures aside, Jordan has a much more relaxed and familiar feel than any of the countries we have visited so far. In the cities most people are decked out in Western attire and it is possible to visit bars with all the chic and pretentiousness of London. In addition, I am receiving significantly less offers of a herd of camels in exchange for Jon by the infatuated local men.

Similarly I am hoping Jon sheds some of his adopted Arabic behaviours and returns to his ‘Western sensibilities’. Whilst usually an advocate of the ‘when in Rome’ mindset, his mastering of the ‘hiss for attention’ and his constant attempts to kiss my cheek, hold my hand or link arms in the street are respectively annoying and just plain wierd.

It would be remiss of me not to mention at this juncture that 99% of the Arabs we have met – 98% of them male – have been extremely pleasant, generous and hospitable folk. For the 1% that consider throwing stones, spitting, grabbing and aiming their vehicles at us as a means of roadside greeting we have attempted to express our displeasure via the means of a tirade of universally comprehended adjectives and suggestions.

For us the Jewel in Jordan’s Crown has been twofold. Giddyingly beautiful panorama’s (of Lawrence of Arabia fame) greet the eye at Wadi Rum, where the red’s, orange’s and yellow’s of the desert contrast starkly with the bright azure sky. A desert of mountains it appears a climber’s paradise with innumerable faces rising from the sands in glorious weather conditions – perfect for a night under the stars as we found at a local Bedouin camp. The other of course is Petra, where intricately decorated facades are carved straight out of the pink-hued canyon walls to create the temples of this ancient Nabatean City. A dip in the Dead Sea en route to Amman completed our abbreviated sight seeing ventures and brings us to an important Team Cycopath Tip: Do not dive head first into the Dead Sea – not only will the intense salinity ricochet you straight back onto the shore but you will feel as though you have just snorted chilli powder.

Wadi Rum

This Crown however is not without it’s thorns – namely in the form of a huge mountain range. For our part we have possibly chosen the most undulating South-North route. Climbing from sea level to its Eastern flank for desert scenery, we then summited before dropping down the other side for Petra. Subsequent days cycling then took us above 1500m (again) followed by a sheer exhilerating descent to Jordan’s Rift Valley, 400m below sea level, where we set and reset our much vaunted land-speed record. Finally to reach Amman we ascended in excess of 1600m in one continuous 30km uphill slog. The most soul destroying aspect of forward progress over this topography is the need to descend only to begin climbing again once you have reached the valley floor. This energy sapping feature was never more tangibly demonstrated than when we were outpaced by a tortoise crossing the Kings Highway at 1400m (I jest not – check future photos).

Amman now reached we plan to rest, recover and re-hydrate. Following this we point our trusty steeds north and plunge further into our Arabian adventure as we pick a path through Syria and Lebanon. Our Jordanian experience though regrettably short is truly memorable and highly reccomended – just leave the bikes behind.

Sean

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/46593233@N00/

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March 10, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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