Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Feb 19 2013

Middle East trip, part 3

Breakfast at the Imperial was slightly worse today, with more people and less olive oil. Since Basem was busy in the morning, we took a rushed city tour with the same cranky old man, who drove us down empty streets, as all Muslim shops are closed on Fridays, and extolled the virtues of the old city. He took us up to the Citadel, which was a small city/fort on the highest hill in Amman, and we browsed the ruins quickly before embarking on a personal mission to show us how depraved the foreign rich residents of the city were. We drove past empty, raucously designed mansions on a hill, listening to the old man rant against wealthy Iraqis who, he claimed, “cannot be really happy.” Then he took us to a Dead Sea products shop where the women oohed and aahed over various forms of packaged mud. This went on for far too long. I would have rather spent the time in the old city. I really think this city would be great for street photography, if I could just get out and actually, you know, do it.

Basem, Mohammad and Fahed were waiting at the hotel when we got back, and we set out soon after, driving down, down, down off the high plains, towards Israel. The sun came out, and the temperatures rose. We drove past camping Jordanian families under fig trees, past the place where Jesus was baptized, and to the coast of the Dead Sea, which is at its present rate supposed to disappear in about 50 years. Fortunately, (or unfortunately if you’re not a fan of the Dead Sea), the area’s governments have come up with a plan to pump water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea (Better Dead than Red, I guess). Basem’s family owns a chunk of land on the coast, complete with a shack and a pool for hot spring water piped in. We dumped our stuff and proceeded down to the coast, stopping first at one of the gullies, crossed by a bridge. Basem, the smallest of his brothers as well as the oldest, disappeared down a rocky slope, and everyone else but me sensibly decided not to follow his example. For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to pick my way down the steep, rocky slope, starting several small avalanches on my way, until I found at the bottom a straight drop to the river bed. “Just jump!” Basem said, completely unhelpfully. I hung down as far as I could, but I was still several meters short. There was nothing for it except to let go, and I bounced off the bottom and fell over, thankfully with nothing more than a few scrapes and bruises. “I fell down too,” Basem admitted, adding, “I just wanted to see someone else fall.”

We made our way out to the coast, where some of our party were hoping to float in the water, but I was less than enamored with the idea of dipping my scrapes in such salty water, plus I had a headache. So I wandered around a bit instead.

Back at the shack, I took a dip in the pool, which, while containing deliciously hot water, featured a slippery bottom that made standing difficult. Basem’s other younger (but by no means little) brother showed up and lent his hand to making dinner. Festive lights and Muslim hits on a large speaker soon had the Jordanians dancing and shouting between courses of barbeque. It was a great, fun night, and we ended up sitting around the fire chatting until we all fell asleep under the stars.

posted by Poagao at 6:00 am  

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