The lowest I have ever been
It’s a Dead Sea pun people, the lowest place on Earth!
5 long days in Amman and my bike arrived, the box was beat up but the bike was mostly ok. My gear did not follow which forced me to either quit or formulate a plan B, deciding to make hay while the sun shines and plod on. After rummaging around 2 bike shops and 1 hiking store I was able to assemble some gear I could work with. Mostly thanks to Hussam at Bike Rush who rents gear but sold me some valuable pieces of equipment such as a bag for the bike, without which there is no way I could begin. Hussam gave me a ride from Amman to Umm Qais, and the beginning of god knows what!
Riding through the ancient paths and goat herds was insanely beautiful. Being chased by shepherds dogs not so much. The riding was difficult with some extremely steep uphills that I could barely push the bike up, the mid day heat nearing 40 degrees adding to the mix. I arrived in a small town called Hofa exhausted and collecting 5, yes 5 punctures along the way. I asked a kid for some water and ended up being invited inside for dinner. First night I spent in Taibah, I met a local guy Mohammed, who directed me to a derelict property where I set up for sleep. Day 1 in the bag but definitely gave me pause for thought.
On through Ajloun, up and down the hills culminating in a steep ascent towards the Jordan/Palestinian West Bank border. Each turn revealing more stunning landscape as the Jordan Valley unfolds before my eyes. Straddled by brown desert and imposing mountains is farmland, date farms, banana plantations dot the landscape. It’s not a wealthy region with many migrant workers, and the kids seem to find joy almost oblivious of their situation. I rode by a Palestinian refugee camp, don’t really want to bring politics into the blog but all I’ll say is it’s pretty sad to see and I appreciate all that I have. Choked down a feed fit for a king, a local dish called Mansaf which is eaten with your hands. Set up the tent in the yard of the restaurant and dozed off in lighting speed.
The heat and humidity is a cruel cocktail, makes my legs and my brain not work too well. It’s far too difficult and dangerous to ride during the day because of this, I just cannot find the air to fill my lungs even on flat terrain. Cousin Grainne is wearing a big I told you so face! The only way to keep going is to rise at 5am and be done riding at 11am. I drank 7 litres of water from Taibah to where I set up the tent in Ma’addi, that’s nuts!
Here’s a solid piece of advice if you ever find yourself in the Dead Sea, just float around for a bit, snag your photo and get out. Don’t get fancy and parade your less than average swimming skills because soon as your face hits that death water your lips shrivel up and your eyes sting so much you can barely keep ‘em open, I pretended I was fine as you do. No one told me, so you’re welcome! I’m resting in Al Ayes tonight after coming from Kerak where there is a monstrous Castle from the time of the Crusades. Puncture count: 6.