During the ride along the Jordan river in the past days I could already see across to the jordan side and see the mountains there. So I am not surprised as the road is really climbing when I leave Aqaba at the Red Sea to the north across the desert. Soon beautiful sandstone rocks appear next to the road that look especially nice in the evening hours.

Behind one of those rocks I have set up my tent for the night. In the middle of the night I wake up because two guys stand in front of my tent. At first I don't quite understand what's happening. Until one says 'money' and the other makes an obvious gesture with his knife, I realize what is happening. I give them the 20 dinars (25$) that I have in my wallet (my other money is somewhere else). At first they are not happy and want more. But when I show them the empty wallet they accept it and run away.

It takes some time to recover from the shock. Of course I cannot sleep here anymore. So I pack my stuff and ride in the dark for some kilometers until I put up the tent somewhere in the desert.

The incident bothers me for some time to come. It is the first time ever something like that has happened to me. But mostly I am happy that nothing worse has happened. In retrospective I offended some of my own rules. Normally I either camp next to houses asking people or then I camp so I cannot be seen by anyone. Yesterday I was quite near a village and some shepherds saw me on the back.

Shortly before Petra I reach the highest point at 1700m Within a day it has suddenly become very cold now. When I started in the morning it was already only a few degrees plus. The clouds ahead get darker and darker and soon it starts to rain. While I cycle on the hilly road the temperatures drop to -5º, it rains and snow is falling and there is a very strong, cold wind. For hours I ride like this until I finally reach Wadi Musa, dripping and shivering. In the two days that I stay here it snows constantly and soon everything is white!

Of course the cold weather cannot stop me from going to see the antique town of Petra. A truly unique place. All the buildings are cut out of the red rose sand stone. The moment when you walk through As-Siq, a narrow gorge which is the entrance to the town, and then suddenly stand in front of the Treasury cut out of the sheer rock face is truly breathtaking.

For two days I try to leave town but always have to turn around: there is simply too much snow and ice on the road, no way I can cycle. On the third day I manage to leave and two days later I arrive in the capital, Amman. At the moment it is almost impossible to continue overland from here so I pack my bike for flying out. Where exactly I will continue you will read in the next newsletter, only so much: I am not on the way back home yet... :-)

I wish you all merry christmas and later a happy new year!

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