thesticks

28th November 1993

Amman, capital of Jordan. Up and down the hills between the luxurious villas. Everyone of them different! Everyone of them enormous. The people who live here must be very wealthy, it is obviously the place to be for aspiring architects. But where do the poor people live? Are there any? The guide says "yes" but we don't see anything that could be described as poverty.

It is the rush hour. Most of the vehicles seem to be taxis. Full taxis. Obviously the people are more sensible than those in Britain. If everyone here was driving a car the place would grind to a halt.

We see a few mosques and churches on our tour. The guide claims that the only place where Muslims and Christians can marry and each retain their own religion is in Jordan. He is very keen to tell us how well educated the people are and how they have all worked very hard to build their country which has no oil! "Build their country", indeed building is what we see going on. They are still building and apparently at a rapid rate.

On the drive north to the Syrian border we pass through agricultural areas mostly wheat fields, ploughed ready for the next sowing, and olive tree plantations.

It is dark before we reach the border, say goodbye to the guide and board the Syrian coach.

The border crossing was simple. The passports were collected, taken by the guide, stamped and returned. Only a cursory glance at the passports by the border guards, not even a look at the photo or the people.

The bus drives on, the road is still under construction. It isn't a good first impression of Syria. The new guide explains the roadworks as the bus zigs and zags around the construction vehicles and the heaps of limestone and bumps along on now rough, now smooth road surfaces.

It is too dark to see out but the impression is that it is very different from Jordan. The houses we can see through the dark are smaller and less affluent, some look only half built but nevertheless, occupied.

We arrive in Bosra. Dinner will be served in 45 minutes. I am not hungry. Lunch in Amman had been very large although they had described it as "a light lunch". We are all tired. Only five hours sleep since the journey from England and now the guide tells us we must get up at 6:00am next day!

The hotel is splendid - very nice architecture with beautiful areas carpetted with traditional rugs.

Dinner is excellent. The appitizers were as for lunch: dips and salads. Clearly olive oil is in plentiful supply. The main course is a cooked grain, probably wheat, with lamb. Delicious but far too much for me. As with all our meals so far since our arrival, the dessert is fresh fruit. The guide tells us that Syria is proud of its agriculture and that even the prime minister is an agriculturalist of some sort. I don't know if this is true. (Later note: In 1993 the Syrian Prime Minister was Mahmoud Zuabi).