My flight landed in Amman on time and without further obstacle. The Jordanian officials didn’t even check my PCR test, presumably confident in the airline’s thoroughness. I collected my bike, put it back together, then set off cycling into Jordan, country number 83!
I soon left the highway and followed some agricultural roads most of the way to Amman, before having to rejoin the main road. It was busy enough that I was generally able to keep up with traffic.
I rode into the city centre and checked into a hostel. I went out for a walk in the evening to see a bit of the city.
There were a couple noticable differences with Turkey. Even here in the capital, there were significantly fewer women out in public, and of those most wore at least a Hijab. In shops, masks were no longer common.
Hoping to avoid traffic, I set off from the hostel just after dawn. The streets were empty and, surprisingly, the sky was cloudy and it was raining lightly. Not what I expected my first morning in Arabia!
The road climbed up slightly into the hills west of Amman, then began a long descent.
Past the village of Iraq Al-Amir, the traffic stopped completely as I made my way along a small road into the desert. I passed the occasional goatherd, who always greeted me warmly. One was very concerned, insisting I was going the wrong way, and that there was a highway in the other direction. I was happy with this road though.
The road turned to dirt after a while. From that point I didn’t see anyone for probably an hour. The scenery was amazing – I haven’t been in a desert like this in ages. I was really enjoying riding here.
I reached the highway, but headed off onto some agricultural roads for a shortcut. A driver followed me to tell me I couldn’t go that way. He caught up to me just as the road was blocked, which lent some weight to his words. I returned to the highway.
When I stopped, lots of flies gathered around me. They weren’t biting, and they weren’t a problem while riding, but they did make it so that stopping to eat would be uncomfortable. I stopped just long enough to cut up some cheese and wrap it in a chipata, then ate it while riding.
From my high point of 900 metres near Amman, I descended over 1300 metres. This took me down to the Dead Sea, the lowest (land) point on earth.
I made my way down to the Dead Sea to go for a swim. This is obviously something a lot of tourists do, and there were lots of people selling pony/camel rides, or renting seats next to the sea. With so many people around I didn’t want to leave my bike for too long, so I pushed it as far as I could, before the ground got too muddy as I got close to the sea.
Of course, since I was here I had to go for a swim in the Dead Sea. It’s about eight times as salty as the ocean, so it was difficult to swim with breast stroke – whenever I kicked, my legs would just float out of the water. I did accidentally splash a bit in my eyes, which was painful, but not as bad as I expected – a little worse than getting sweat in my eye.
I stopped at the next shop I saw, which turned out to be a fancy mini-mall. When they saw the state of my shoes (covered in Dead Sea mud) they asked me to wash them first, and brought me a hose. The main reason I was stopping was to wash the salt off me, so I was more than happy with that.
At least a little bit cleaner, I set off riding again, riding parallel to the dead sea for an hour or so.
I then set off on a smaller road, climbing up into the mountains to the north. Some sections here were extremely steep – even though they were tarmac, I ended up pushing some sections. I was glad for the clouds or I’d have been sweating even more!
The road levelled out around 700 metres above sea level, and there was a small plateau of rocky ground, with a village and a some small olive groves. There were a few goatherds around, usually with a pack of dogs to protect their flock. These usually came running at me, barking wildly, which isn’t my favourite thing.
From here I descended down into another canyon. This was pretty far from a main road and I had a few people tell me I was going the wrong way.
The road turned to dirt near the bottom, and I descended cautiously. At the bottom of the canyon was some farmland, centred on the river. I caught up to a truck who was going even more slowly than me!
There was a pump taking much of the water away for the farm, so the river itself was almost dry. I forded it then began the climb up the other side.
As the sun began to set, I reached an abandoned building. There were no dogs around so it seemed like a good place to set up camp.
September 23: 33 km
September 24: 110 km