21 June 2012

To Ajlun – Not

We were up early this morning.  Considering all things we had slept fairly well.
Having not heard our host return last night, we found him asleep on the sofa in the living room, and knowing that he had gotten in late last night, we didnt have the heart to wake him.  Although we would have liked a chat and to say thankyou, we left the money and keys beside him and struck out to find a better way around Jordan.  It is only due to the kindness of our un-named host and the like that is keeping our faith in this country.  It is hard, but we are both determined to enjoy Jordan.

With the early start we caught a taxi out to the shuttle bus terminal.  This was a lot quicker a trip than yesterday, and very soon we were at the station with calls for where are you going?  When you don’t want them, these are a pain.  However they are invaluable when you need them.  So don’t stop!
With ease we found the bus going out to Pella, and although we had our bags, it wouldn’t be a problem.  Breakfast was easily acquired as it is at any bus station around the world.  Date Jam Roll.  It tastes better than it sounds.  That acquired, it was time to sit on the bus.  It seemed as if it was going to leave soon.  The engine was on, and the driver rolled it forwards a few times.  However this was misleading, as it was another twenty minutes until it finally departed. Service busses just ply the one route, backwards and forwards.  It also doesn’t leave until it is full, however it will pick up passengers along the way if it has room.

Pillars at Pella

The trip out to Pella was fairly uneventful, there were hills, buildings, camels, goats, cars, people, and the like all along the road.  The hills lead down into the Jordan Valley, and in places were quite steep.  On arriving at Pella, we were told this is our destination.  Having sort of expected something like yesterday, where you are dropped off at the site (or at least nearby) we were surprised to find that we were in the wrong town.  Pella is at the top of the hill and we were in another town at the bottom of the hill.  With our bags and not knowing the distance we took a local taxi to get to the archeological site.  This was just up the hill as we had assumed.  But it was a steep hill, and with our bags it would not have been fun.  Still, at the site we got our first pleasant supprise.  No entry fee.  There was a gatekeeper and a younger man there.  The young man wanted to be our guide, but we said no, as we have very little money.  He still came with us anyway.  It was mainly to practice his english, which was pretty good.  We learnt that he drove rally cars, and had a bad accident, that the ruins we old, and ruined by an earthquake.  The site itself has been occupied continuously since about 7000 BC.  There are no explanations to the ruins other than the now standard lineage.  Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Umayyads (Damascas), Abbasids (Bagdad), etc.  There are a few columns that have been put back up and some extremely deep dig sites.  The area is quite large, and as we walked over a bare flat plain, we

Oasis down the valley

could see down the hill.  It was an oasis.  There was green everywhere.  Trees, grass, it was a stunning contrast to the yellow brown hills around it.  This sparked our guide off about Amman, Erbid and Jaresh stealing the water from here, until it all turns to desert and no one can live here at all.  He does have a point though.  Especially after not seeing the Oasis at Azraq.  Our guide kept moving us on as it was hot.  Honestly it wasn’t that hot, but he went on about it.  The few days before in Amman was hot.  This was just fine.  Our guide didn’t belive me.
It was a good way to spend the morning.  The ruins we not the best, and needed a bit of work with explaining them, but it was enjoyable to see the pillars perched on a flat bit of land in the middle of the hillsides.  Top, middle and apparently bottom, although we didn’t see that one.

Isn’t it pretty?

As it was time to move on, we explained to our guide that we wanted to go to Ajlun.  He found us a taxivan and said we could catch a service bus from the town at the bottom of the hill.  The town taxi (these come in all sorts of shapes and forms, let alone prices, and we still havent worked it out) got the wrong idea and thought he had scored bigtime with a trip to Ajlun.  We were at the top of the hill and cruising along when he told us it would be 20JD.  Yah, Right.  Do a uturn and take us back to town please.  Like you were supposed to.  Here we caught a service bus.  There was a bit of conversation about where we wanted to go.  Our pronunciation is not up to scratch apparently.  Still with the aid of our map, and every person on the bus, it was decided that we should get on.  About 500 meters down the road at the end of town it did a uturn.  Um, Wrong direction unless you are going up the hill, and you passed that before?  More conversation.  Pull the bus over, phone call, talk to the people outside.  The people on the bus are wondering what is going on, us included.  The driver still didn’t know where we wanted to go!  He arranged a taxi for us (again 20jd) we said we would go back to Irbid.  That settled we were off again.  More cars, people, goats, hills etc.  Mostly the same ones I suppose.  This trip we were charged 3JD (assuming 1JD for the hassle, and that is still more than the .50 it should have been. )  As far as tourist taxes have gone, most of Jordan is reasonable. Yes we are paying a bit more for service busses and the like, but it is not ridiculous.  Taxi’s are fine as long as you use the metre.  Then there is the food, and although we have been stung badly, most have been good.  The food itself has been brilliant, and although we are still only eating street food, it is more than enough.

Phot’s of King Abdullah II are all over Jordan

Back in Irbid, we had to decide what to do.  We could risk going out to Ajlun, carrying our bags looking for a place to stash them, or a hotel for the night.  Then there is the safe option of going back to Amman and doing day trips out from there. We chose the safe option.  Another service bus to the Amman bus station, 4JD and 10 min, we were on our way back to Amman.  This was a good trip as you wind around the side of one of the valleys.  The landscape looked a lot like Taemas.  Hills covered in yellow grass, scattered with small dots of green.  On Taemas they would have been rose bushes, here they are Olive trees.  If the bus had let us off there, I think I could have found the house!  Then there are the sections where it opens up and you can see the river Jordan.  This is a fantastic view with the river cutting its way through the valley.  There are crops, forests and plantations all along with villages built up over the hillsides.  After a mild traffic jam, we had clear driving all the way to Amman.  Arriving at the bus station in the Northern suburbs of Amman, we caught a service taxi to town.  I think Andrew’s dreads were scaring off all the prospective customers, so we had to take the cab for ourselves.  Another 2JD instead of 0.7
The Taxi dropped us off at Hashims, as we had seen a hotel across from there when we had lunch.  This turns out to be a proper backpackers.  Andrew the Owner is a Palestinian christian, and we had a long talk with him about Jordan, Politics and religion.  He was very open, and it was interesting to find out that he was allowed to come and go from Israel, then one day they refused him re-entry to go home. Even though he is christian.  He doesn’t hold it against the people though.  People are just people.  The hotel itself is very serviceable.  It has old spring beds similar to Taemas’s shearers beds, a fan and the bathroom is clean and serviceable.  What more do you need?  After settling in, we went out for a quick bite, and walk around town.  As we had already walked the area, it was no surprise to see the vendors with their wares out on the street.  This time it was mainly watches and sunnies.  There were still all the cloths, the poor old women making their living by selling cigarettes and tissues.  The stalls selling chilled cordial, or tea and coffee.  We met Isam Sakar, a German.  He has family over here.  We had a pleasant time talking with him, mostly about nothing.  This was great, as we haven’t been able to do that since we left Australia.  We ended up having coffee and Shisha (water pipe, Hooka, Nargale whatever you want to call it).  Calling it a night we headed back to the hotel to turn in.  Here we met a group of Australians that have been in the country for a few days.  We talked about what they have seen, and what we were planning, and suddenly we now have a group heading out to Ajlun tomorrow.
As its past Midnight, the Aussies have gone out partying and we have an early morning, we will leave it there.

All the best,


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