No castles here.
We have had some problems navigating this city, but weâ€™ve had some success as well (we found the Dead Sea, after all). Today we had pretty high hopes as we set off towards the Eastern desert and the town of Azraq
. We planned to see the many â€śdesert castlesâ€ť on the route, and to visit one of the two nature preserves near the town. In the end, NONE of that happened, and we found a less welcoming side of Jordan in the form of rock-wielding boys, as well. Not our best day.
As we departed the city we didnâ€™t see any signs pointing to Azraq, so we just focused on trying to head east. After a couple of time-consuming false starts, things seemed promising â€¦ we were cruising along a completely desolate, dusty desert road.
It's a sign!
Well, kind of.
We didnâ€™t see any castles, but there were lots of military installations, and we saw what looked like a fortified border. We joked that maybe we had gone to Saudi Arabia, or maybe Syria, since we had been driving so long!
As we came to splits in the road, we always had to guess where we were and which direction to go, due to lack of signage. Finally we found a sign in English, and it indicated Amman
was behind us -- OK, good sign! We kept going, and eventually came upon a town which we believed to be Azraq.
We cruised the town looking for gas. Along one street, I pulled over for Steve to take a picture of one of the signs. He poked his head out to do so, and three grubby boys, about 13 years old, ran up to the car a little too fast, and a little too close.
It doesn't seem like the highway anymore.
They looked in the car with odd little smiles on their faces, and started talking fast, almost chanting. It just seemed really weird and off to me. Then I saw that the biggest boy had a big rock in his hand! Steve was busy with the photo and didnâ€™t notice, but the rock was a little too close to his headâ€¦ and I was seriously worried they were going to knock him on the bean and take the camera! I said, â€śget in fast!â€ť and Steve said something to the boys (he was asking them to move so he could take the picture), and they said something back (but didnâ€™t move), then Steve started to get out of the car, and I grabbed his shirt to hold him back, and I took off! There was a loud THUNK on the carâ€¦ the rock had found its mark. I looked back and they still had those weird smiles. Little devils.
That incident really caused us to lose our spirit, and put a pit in my stomach.
Now I thought the townspeople looked menacing
, and wondered, Why is everyone staring at us? I felt conspicuous to have my head uncovered, as all the woman in the town were completely covered up. Steve said, â€śthis place is scary, letâ€™s go!â€ť and we finally found gas and headed out of town, looking for signs for the preserve on the way.
As we exited, we saw a sign, â€śThank you for visiting Zerka.â€ť We studied the map and decided â€śZerkaâ€ť must be â€śAl Zarqaâ€ť on our mapâ€¦which unfortunately was not far from Amman at all, and no where near where we wanted to be! We must have just driving out for a loop in the desert and inadvertently headed back to the west?
Completely dejected at this point, and feeling so tired after many hours in the car (and no progress), we just headed back to Amman.
Taking refuge from the mean streets at Wild Jordan Cafe.
It took a long time to get back because of traffic, but we made it without incident. Hoping for one success, we decided to drive to Wild Jordan CafĂ© for a late lunch, and we did indeed find it with no problem. And we got back to the hotel from there without a problem as well. One small success!
Back at the hotel, we were ĂĽber busy on our computers, then we had good workouts. It helped make up for the wasted day, at least a little bit. Late in the evening, we decided to get out for our last evening in Amman, and we took the car to a restaurant named Whispers. And we didnâ€™t get lost once!
Tomorrow is another big driving day, and hopefully will be a more successful one: road trip to Petra! Fingers crossedâ€¦