Jordan 2: 20.02. - 04.03.2004

Route: Aqaba, Petra, Tafila, Karak, Amman, Salt, Irbid

Distanz: 572 Km

After arriving in Aqaba with the ferry from Egypt, we cycled straight to the mountains. After 3 days we arrived in Wadi Musa, the town next to Petra. Petra, the Rose Red City, is a more than 2000 year old City from the Nabateans, and together with Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea, the most important tourist site in Jordan. In front of the entrance we met Peter, a British guy from Gibraltar, who is traveling around Africa since about 15 months ago ( Together we started to explore Petra for two days. To get a own entrance for their city, the Nabateans had to divert the river Sique. This means, that they had to dig a 80m long tunnel through the rocks. The original riverbed was reconstructed as a street through a narrow canyon with up to 100m high walls on both sides. The most interesting thing in Petra is, that the theater, the temples, the tombs, and houses were just dug into the rose red sandstone. Especially the moment, when you see the "Al Kazneh" (the treasury) the first time, at the end of the 1,2 Km long canyon of the river Sique, is really impressing. The rooms in the tombs and temples are usually very small and simple, but not so the facades. The facades are up to 50m high, just dug out of the rock and really beautiful. Its a great achievement in architecture and climbing. Unfortunately some earthquakes destroyed many of the buildings during the last centuries. In the 16th century, the once very important place for trade, and roman capital for the Arabic region, got lost for the western world. In the year 1812 a "traveler" from Switzerland discovered it again. The whole area is really big and in order to see some of the temples we had to climb high up into the mountains. We thought, that we were physically quite fit by now, but each evening we were really tired and from the hard walking we also got aching muscles.

From Petra we followed the Kings Highway to Amman. The landscape is quite hilly with two really big Wadis (Wadi Hasa and Wadi Mujib). In Wadi Hasa it was a quick descend from 1110m down to 350m only to cycle up again on the other side. In the second Wadi we cycled from 850m down to 150m. We didnīt have to go down the last meters, because we were allowed to use the new dam, although they were still tarring it. We were still cleaning our shoes from the tar on the opposite side, when Nadine mentioned as a joke, that she would stay there until a truck was going to give us a lift. Exactly at that moment, a truck stopped, and the driver asked us if he could give us a lift. Of course we were really happy about this. Half an hour later, we were out of the valley (but this time only 680m above sea level). We were really surprised of the landscape. We expected  some really impressing mountains (like between Aqaba and Petra), but the landscape (the historical Moab) became more and more green. Although it was still February, the climate was like in the beginning of the summer in Europe. The wheat grew on the fields and the sun warmed us with up to 29 degrees Celsius. But not everything was perfect. It seemed that the children didn't learn how to behave to guests. In Tayyiba, we were repairing a flat in Nadine's tire, some school aged children stole my speedometer. We had good luck, because we got it back with the help of the police. The policeman had pricks of conscience, so he repaired the pulled of cable on his own. They also helped us to repair our flat. Beside this, in nearly every village or town the children tried to throw stones to us. Usually they didn't do it after we stopped and started to shout at them. Except for a small wooden board, that was thrown by some children from a car, and hit Nadine on her shin (she got immediately a big bump) we had good luck and didn't get hit. 

Being in Jordan for the second time, we wanted to see the river Jordan. Although the Jordan valley is only a few kilometers wide, we weren't able to see any river from the main road. So we went off the main road, followed a small road along some greenhouses into the middle of the valley. Suddenly the road ended at a small steep slope. Again, we couldn't see the river, but a gravel road went down to the bottom of the valley. There, we followed a very well paved road. After about 1 Km we were stopped by a military sentry. Very friendly the soldier told us, that we were on a military road and that we would have to wait for his superior (a Captain). To shorten the time of waiting he showed us the river Jordan. We didn't believe our eyes, but the famous river Jordan was just a normal creek. Very proud the soldier told us, that because of the heavy rainfall in the last few days, the level of water was very high. After about 15 minutes the Captain arrived. He explained to us, that we were very close to the border to Israel (about 50m) and that we would have to return to the main road. To be sure, that we were leaving the closed area he followed us with his jeep. After some kilometers he stopped and showed us a especially wide part of the river Jordan, and allowed us to take some pictures. Shortly before we were back on the main road he told us, that his commander would like to see us, and so we followed him to the barracks. He brought us straight to the office of the commander. Together with two of his staff officers and the captain, the commander (a half colonel) discussed our "attack" on the Israel border, while enjoying some cups of tea and coffee. After they had checked our passports and insured themselves, that there was no important military information on our photos, they wrote a report. They probably were discussing how it was possible that some tourists were able to reach the protected border without any problems. After about 45 minutes the commander apologized for the circumstances we have had and wished us a good journey. Some minutes later we were back on the main road.



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