Dear Jordan, I like bread, I really do, but come on, enough with the bread already.
After ten consecutive meals in Dubai and Jordan where bread was a or the main ingredient I was going a little bread crazy. Bread with meat, bread with eggs, bread with jam, bread with coffee, bread with bread, I’m sure if somebody invented a bread drink the Jordanians would have that too! For dinner in Wadi Musa, the base town for Petra tours, I found al Arabia Restaurant, a small kebab shop sprinkled with a few fellow travellers. They had bread on the menu of course, but I decided to steer clear. I scrolled down the menu.
‘What’s in an Arabic salad?’
‘Tomatoes and cucumber sir,’
Hmm, that’s not really a salad is it? I would have thought a salad would have to have at least 3 ingredients to be called a salad. It’s a bit like calling One Direction musicians – you put some simple ingredients together and call it something which it resembles, but in the end, it’s left wanting.
‘What about the Greek salad?’
‘Tomatoes, cucumber and cheese,’
Now that does have 3 ingredients, but it still did not sound all that exciting. The Arabs and Greeks may have invented democracy, maths, science and all that important stuff, but they could probably do with spending a bit more of that creative energy on their salads.
‘I’ll have the tuna salad and potato ships thanks,’ (that is not a typo, I really ordered potato ships)
‘Thank you sir,’
Surely, they could not serve a salad and chips with bread?
I simply have to factor bread into every meal.
So apparently some guy called Moses spent 40 years walking through the desert looking for Mt Nebu. It only took me about 1 ½ hrs from a town called Madaba. Moses really should have taken his guide book with him, it would have saved him a lot of time – or at least ask someone for directions – I mean, I know about the whole male pride thing, I get it, but surely after about 35 years you might think about it? No? Ok. Well, I shouldn’t judge the guy, he did receive the Ten Commandments from God and part the Red Sea, he was just no good with directions. None of us are perfect.
I made my way along the road to Mt Nebu after a hearty breakfast of bread, eggs, cheese and tomatoes, topped off with a Turkish coffee so thick it could have hosted Funniest Home Videos. Along the highway I passed through many ordinary yet pleasant towns. Most had a small coffee shop and hardware shop and I’m sure they all had bakeries. A small boy on a donkey passed me on the other side of the road,
‘Hello!’ he shouted.
‘Hello,’ I waved back.
‘Hellofuckyou!’ and he kicked the donkey and trotted off, looking quite proud of himself.
As I strode closer to Mt Nebu, the landscape changed from flat farming land to rocky hills and valleys, with a much more ‘promised’ feel about them. I knew when I was close to ‘the view of the Promised Land’ – for two reasons. Firstly, the wind picked up dramatically, rushing through the valleys and sweeping across the ridges before funnelling into my bones, shattering my thus far pleasant morning walk. The second reason I knew the Promised Land was beckoning, was because I saw many ‘Nebu Mosaics and Handicrafts’ shops.
The Promised Land looks largely unremarkable today, now don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic view, but if you were promised that land by God himself, well, I might ask for somewhere else. Maybe in Moses’ day it was different, there are lots of dried river beds and you can imagine trees on the hilltops and shepherds herding their flocks through green pastures, but you can only imagine it. Nowadays the mountain side is snaked with the King’s highway and Bedouin families, with their herds of black goats and matted sheep they camp on the hillsides, looking something between gypsies and refugees.
Good car, no problem
There is always something unsettling when you are told ‘no problem’ or ‘don’t worry’ when travelling. It’s even more unsettling when you are told over and over again. From Madaba I headed south to Wadi Musa (Petra) detouring through Wadi Mujib, Karak and Dana. All along the way, my Bedouin driver Ahmad, shared with me the extent of his English language skills, which I must say is more than my Arabic.
‘Good car, good car,’ he would announce sporadically, ‘Good car, no problem, no problem. Good car, good brakes, don’t worry.’
As long as you use them Ahmad, you can have the best brakes in the world, but that doesn’t matter if the driver is no good.
Luckily Allah and the Travel Gods were smiling upon us and despite Ahmad’s pleasure at pushing 150km/h at times, while assuring me, ‘good car, good car,’ we made it incident free.
You can see for yourself how spectacular Wadi Mujib is. The rain, wind and clouds only made it feel that much better.
At Karak, an almost 1000 year old castle looms over the town. I left Ahmad at the gate with his coffee drinking friends and started exploring. The wind seemed to have followed us from Wadi Mujib and again added atmosphere to the place, although inside the thick stone walls I was well protected. Just as I was enjoying my solitude and exploration I heard from behind me,
‘Good, good, yes?’
‘Oh, hello Ahmad.’
At Dana we made a pit stop for lunch (for 2), soaked in some more spectacular views and explored the small and unique town.
Next episode: Petra