Last days in the Middle East
March 7, 2014
the laden lorries frequenting the route. Within 30 minutes my panniers were filled with eggplant, garlic, onions, and tomatoes. Enough for a few days minus the water. The road flowed, then climbed around the sea and I looked into the distance for shade. I stopped near the police station and rested under a road sign, and was invited for tea and coffee with the chief of police. Police in Jordan are athletic and the chief even demonstrated this by carrying Gaby up the stairs into the main office. We joked for close to an hour about Americans and fast food, then hit the road again.
The Dead Sea is 400 meters (1,400 feet) below sea level, and as I left the sea and pedaled up to the city of Madaba, I climbed for close to 4 hours. My plan was to get some Bedouin clothes, see Moses’ burial site, then camp in some remote location before dark, but due to the endless climbing I ended up sleeping in the remote mountains, too tired to go on to the city.
The next day, upon entering Madaba, I asked a few locals about Bedouin shops, and met a nice man who was once a taxi driver in New York. Gazi was now baker, and owned a thriving bakery in the city center He invited me to his house for lunch, introduced me to his family, offered me a shower, and gave me new clothes. He then gave me a trash bag and told me to “throw away” all my current clothes. Later his son took me to the local Bedouin shops, and taught me to make bread. After a long day they gave me a room in their house, and I slept well until the morning call to prayer at 5:30 am. If you wake up to the first call, you might as well get up because the second call is fifteen minutes later.
I ate breakfast with the family, filled my panniers with bread and jumped on Gaby for the long road to the Palestinian border. I stopped for lunch at Mt. Nebo, Moses’ burial site, then coasted down the mountain returning again to the Dead Sea. I met some really nice Saudis at Mt. Nebo and as I pedaled towards Palestine I contemplated making a left turn to Saudi Arabia, “In Shala” (if god allows) I said to myself and said good-bye to Jordan.
It took me over 6 hours to cross into Palestine! Stranded between the two countries I sat in a room full of Palestinians and other Arabs, and watched them pray twice before being called to the interrogation room for the final time. Finally, at close to 9 pm, I was give back my passport and welcomed to the West Bank. It was dark and windy when I pedaled away from the border and I found a hidden nook behind a mound of dirt to pitch the tent.
I have spent the first half of the day in Jericho, and will be heading to the western side of the Dead Sea to sleep tonight. I fly back to Bosnia on the 21st, and I will write again from Jerusalem, In Shala!
Here’s one from the archives: