Buya Ikhaya (Come Home)

Charlie and Rensche are coming home by riding motorbikes from London to Cape Town.

We hope that our stories from the road will motivate you to give a donation to our chosen charity Beautifulgate who are a Christian organisation helping Aids orphans in Southern Africa. Please follow the link in the column on the right.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Aids in the Middle East and North Africa

An estimated 68 000 people acquired HIV in 2006, bringing to 460 000 the total number of people living with the virus in the region. AIDS killed approximately 36 000 people in the past year. Inadequate HIV surveillance in many countries of this region makes it difficult to discern the patterns and trends of their diverse epidemics.
Sudan has by far the biggest AIDS epidemic in this region. Adult HIV prevalence was 1.6% in 2005 and some 350 000 people were living with HIV. There are fears that HIV transmission could accelerate and broaden in the aftermath of more than two decades of war, as the lives of former refugees and displaced persons gradually return to normal.

Knowledge of HIV was extremely poor: only 2% of the men knew that condoms can prevent HIV transmission (Abdelwahab, 2006).
Progress in providing antiretroviral therapy in this region remains slow, with only 4000 people estimated to be on treatment at the end of 2005. It is estimated that some 75 000 people in the region need antiretroviral therapy (WHO/UNAIDS, 2006).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Joyous Jordan

1/11/07 - Aqaba to exiting Jordan - 5km
At breakfast we had a nice long chat with a couple from Romania who have travelled down with a friend by bike. They are also on HorizonsUnlimited. We had no water last night or this morning which Charlie pointed out to Bedouin Garden Village Camp manager when he checked out. The junior manager had prepared our bill at 13JD per night for the room as per previous 5 nights we stayed before Wadi Rum but the camp manager changed it to 18JD! and refused to reduce it. So that put a bit of a damper on our departure! Arriving at the ferry port we were directed clearly through the departure process which we did as follows:
1. Downstairs at Customs - pay 5JD per person for departure tax.
2. Downstairs at Customs - pay 5JD per bike for departure tax.
3. Downstairs at Customs - get your carnet stamped although they are not interested in tearing off the counterpart exit slip.
4. Downstairs at Customs - they take the blue paper you got when you entered Jordan and staple a few other bits of paper to it and hand it back to you.
5. Upstairs - At immigration get your passport stamped out and get your departure tax receipt stamped.
6. Upstairs - Go to AB Maritime desk where they prepare the ferry tickets for you AND your bike. Here they check that you have the blue paper and the stamp departure tax receipt. They then hand you your tickets and hang on to your passport.
7. Upstairs - Hop across to the bank and pay for your ferry tickets at US$60 per person and US$45 per bike and get a receipt.
8. Upstairs - Go back to AB Maritime and show your receipt and get your passport back.
9. Hang around until you hear an announcement over the loudspeakers and you see people running.
10. Keep all paperwork handy as there are numerous checks until you sit in your chair!
11. As you ride onto the ferry the guy you met at customs will be there to take the blue paper from you...
And this is only on the Jordan side!!!
The ferry was totally empty with only 3 or 4 cars on board. We were all on board and ready to go at 12h30 but for whatever reason it only left at 13h30.There are concerns in the overland community about getting trucks and camper vans onto the fast ferry as the ramp cannot fully extend in Aqaba. We reckon that a standard old VW camper van and 4X4 will make it but the new modern fancy camper vans might not make it as you need some ground clearance. Best is just to check as the speed ferry is definitely better than the overnight ferry. There are 2 ferry's per day: the fast ferry at noonish Sunday to Friday with one hour crossing time. ish. And the slow boat which travels at night. We did see ferries doing other crossing during the day but we couldn't get on them for whatever reason.

31/10/07 - Disi - Aqaba - 91km
When we woke up this morning we found lots of interesting spores around our tent in the sand and to our dismay realised that some animal has peed on our tent again! We hope that this is a cat or dog and not something a camel! Especially since we are planning to go into Africa.... We had our standard issue breakfast of boiled eggs, flat bread, tomato, humus, olives, jam, Happy Cow. Can't wait for some variety in Egypt. We headed off to Aqaba to meet Elize again before we all leave Jordan. For animal lovers it is a bit shocking to see the number of stray dogs living out in the outskirts of town and running around feral throughout the whole Middle East. After 9 weeks on the road we got quite comfortable with daily life as a traveller. But Africa of course has challenges of it's own. We are also glad we decided to take the Middle East route even though it cost us more than Lybia. We saw more countries and met wonderful people and had time to settle into the trip. The first two weeks of the trip way back in Europe, stuck in the rain, left us a bit disillusioned after having spent such a long time planning the trip and then finding that nothing was going according to your dream plan! We had upsets with the bikes and the weather and were waiting for the excitement to kick in. We tried to do everything at once and constantly watched our budget and program. Now that we are about 3 weeks delayed and well over our budget we are quite happy with just taking every day as it comes. We tried to prepare ourselves for Egypt and getting our cash ready. This will be our worse border crossing with the most red tape. Tonight a final dinner with Elize and then tomorrow we are on the 12 noon speed ferry and then we are back in Africa!!! 30/10/07 - Wadi Rum - Disi - 20km
This morning we were woken up by the mosques for the first time in a week. It sounded strange in the stillness of the desert. We were up early so were sitting around until 9am and then decided to make our way to Disi, an area of desert next to Wadi Rum. Charles's mother planned a trip to Yemen and Jordan a year ago and with our delays we were about 5 days ahead of her itinerary. We therefore decided to hang about in Aqaba and meet her today in Disi for her "Bedouin Experience". Mohammed - her operator - booked us in the camp next to her for 22JD per person. On the way to Disi campsites the tarmac disappeared and we found ourselves on firstly gravel and then hard sand. Unfortunately the hard sand turned to soft sand for about 1km. Charlie too had the "Duck Feet" approach in controlling his heavy bike on the soft sand while Rensche's instincts told her to open her throttle. This worked for a while until she had to stop and then she tipped over. No damage done and lesson well learnt. A balance between speed and "walking" will have to be found. When we arrived at Disi we managed to organize staying over in our own tent in the same camp site as Elize (Charles's mother) for just 15JD pp. Sorry Mohammed for losing your commission. Unfortunately the exertion from the morning was just too much for Rensche's engine and it started knocking again with smoke. Elize and Suzanchen (her friend) went for their walk and camel ride, while we fixed our tent as Elize brought some super-duper Namibian tent poles for our tent that just needed a bit of shortening. Quality at last! For supper we had a lovely barbecue Bedouin style and watched some really intimate dancing between two Egyptian men. A Bedouin young man chatted to us the whole evening about Bedouin life, camel riding, the tourists etc. An average racing camel costs about 50 000JD.! We really enjoyed his humour and he explained to us that the bags of water hanging from the ceiling of the tent was to "scare" the flies away when they see the larger reflection of themselves. An old Bedouin old wives tale. It was really nice to meet up with Elize and she was really relieved that we were not skin and bone as she feared after 9 weeks on the road.

29/10/07 - Aqaba - Wadi Rum - 90km
We woke up at 6.00am. Charlie quickly shortened the bolt and fitted the bash plate and then packed the bikes. The camp manager asked us to vacate the room last night as we were here 5 nights already and we had told them we would only be 4 nights. So we decided to head out to Wadi Rum one day earlier than planned. Booked out and paid 102JD. We tried to post a copy of our photo's on CD to SA but found it very difficult to post out of Jordan so will make another plan on the way. On our way to Wadi Rum we met a Dutch couple and the gentleman had a Ducati store. He was very interested in our trip and even more when we told him two Ducati's (see Robins blog) are on their way on our route down to Cape Town. At Wadi Rum we booked into Rest House Camping for JD12 pp including breakfast and supper and spent the rest of the day looking at the wonderful scenery. To get from the camp entrance to the tent pitch required a crossing of 50m of DEEP sand. Charles was rearing to go as he was looking forward to some sand from day 1. He launched himself into the crossing and required regular "touch down" with his feet as the front wheel decided to do what ever it wanted. Rensche watched in amusement. This exercise cured Charles of his desire for sand. It will help a bit when we lower the pressure in our tyres on longer treks but for now we have no plans looking for sand! We were amazed to see how many rock climbers come to Wadi Rum to climb the sandstone.

25/10/07 - 28/10/07 - Aqaba
We found out from our Swiss family that the reef is just in front of the campsite but first we have to do some washing with a washing machine!!! Our first since Titisee in Germany. Its a twin tub with only one program that works and no spin but hey who's complaining: the water still turns brown with dirt and we have white socks once again. We joined Lucas in his camper van for a shopping trip into town and we cleared our shopping list within 2 hours! We also bought two large fresh fish and sweets (baclava) for supper tonight as Lucas and Edith have invited us to dinner.
Back at the campsite we went for a snorkel - this was our first dive onto a coral reef ever! Charlie went in first and saw: scorpion fish, flute fish, white moray, fields of eels, parrot fish and many others and a variety of coral. Unfortunately also decorated with a wide variety of bottles, cans, shoes, tires, plastic bags and an assortment of clothing items. After sunset we went back to the camp and Lucas managed to persuade the restaurant chef to grill our two large fish as a strong breeze meant to braai them ourselves was out of the question. Supper was just fantastic and it was really nice spending time with Swiss family Arnold.The next morning we had breakfast together and normal coffee as all the coffee we've had in Jordan has been flavoured by Cardamon seeds - not our taste. So really enjoyed the lovely cappuccino. The rest of the day was spent lazing around and tidying our luggage - throwing things out and copying our photo's onto discs. We decided to change the oil on the bikes tomorrow (only after 1000km since last change) as the oil in Palmyra is too runny for our liking and doesn't stick to the dip stick. We could only get Castrol GTX but will change oil again in Cairo - just in case. All the washing is done (4 bundles of 2kg each). We spent a couple of hours in the afternoon on the campsite computer pre-typing our blog in word format ready for down load cut and paste! We had a quick supper with the Swiss family as they decided to catch the evening ferry to Egypt. Hope they have a swift and uneventful entry into Egypt.
The Saturday we had breakfast and had a chat with a Polish couple who we had bumped into at Valentine Inn. In the afternoon with changed the engine oil and while doing so Charlie noticed that the bolt holding the bash plate in place was stripped. After the oil change the knock in Rensche's engine seem to have disappeared mid-idle. We also got news from Lukas that the slow boat to Nuweiba only disembarked at 8am and that they only cleared customs at 11am and recommended that we take the fast-ferry.
The Sunday we took a taxi into town where we were taken to a turnery where the bash plate bolt thread was re cut. We then went into town and uploaded the photos for the whole of Jordan. And we are happy to announce that Syria's photalbum is now finally complete!!!
On two mornings we noticed the fast ferry heading across to Egypt at 8:30am. This is odd as we were told the only sailing is from 12:30pm. We hope to find out more when we head into town. This whole ferry lark is very frustrating and pretty silly in the eyes of us foreign tourists. There is a lovely wide road that swings around the shore of the Gulf of Aqaba all the way from Saudi Arabia to means that you have to cover 20km in Israel. There are a number of countries in the region that hold objection to anyone holding a stamp of Israel in their passport as they do not recognise the existence of the state of Israel. Egypt and Jordan have recently lifted this restriction so this would not be a problem for us if it where not for Sudan who still objects to the Israeli stamp. There are a number of rumours and "official" ways of avoiding this i.e. asking that the Israeli's don't stamp your passport or just stamp a piece of paper or by using two different passports. We have met a number of travellers in Jordan who hoped to try these options but on all occasions the Israeli's insisted on stamping the passports on exit. Then again any dim immigration officer will look at your Egypt entry stamp and see that, unless you used sky hooks or grew wings to fly, the only way you could have entered Egypt was to exit Israel. This will certainly be picked up as we have to apply for our Sudan visa in Cairo at the Sudan Embassy where they are not dim. We could take the gamble and try out these options but is it really worth the risk of climbing off the ferry in Wadi Hailfa and being told you cannot enter Sudan and then find a ferry from Egypt to Djibouti or Kenya... We are taking the ferry to Nuweiba and will fly back to Israel some other time.
24/10/07 - Petra - Aqaba - 140km
We woke up after a good night sleep and as Rensche was just a little shaky decided to take on the last stretch of the Kings Highway (Num 20:17) to Aqaba. It was a beautiful road all through the desert and finally the blue turquoise sea appeared and the city of Aqaba. We decided to look for the Bedouin Garden Village to camp just south of Aqaba and on arriving we saw that the Swiss family Arnold were also there. "Just in case" we decided to take a basic room with a bathroom and just as well because a strong wind came up and we think our tent wouldn't not have lasted. We have now travelled 9000km and been on the road for 10 weeks.

21/10/07 - 23/10/07 - Petra
We woke up in time for a quick breakfast and the free ride to Petra in time for the 7am opening. While getting ready Charlie realised that he had forgotten his fleece in the taxi so we hoped that the taxi driver would bring it back to the hotel. We walked down through the siq narrow canyon and arrived at the treasury made famous by the movie of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Due to our early start there was hardly anyone there so we could take beautiful pictures and enjoyed the moment before the bus loads arrive. We then took the many stairs to the High Place of Sacrifice and on our way down the trial passed a few tombs. It was very impressive. We stopped off for a quick coke and then strolled back to the treasury. On our way there we bumped into the Swiss family Arnold who were leaving that evening for Wadi Rum. After that we headed back to the hotel as we were both hot and tired. Petra is referred to in the Bible as Sela in Edom. (Jer 49:16-18. Is 42:11, Is16:1, 2Kings14:7). Petra was a rose stoned city built in the 3de century BC by the Nabataeans who carved palaces, temples, tombs and stables from the standstone cliffs. From here they commanded the trade routes from Damascus to Arabia. Petra was destroyed by an earthquake in 555AD. We again had a lovely buffet supper and went to bed early. The next day we didn't feel up to heading out into the dust and heat so gave our 2-day tickets to some backpackers and wished them good luck. We headed into town to do some internet. Unfortunately apart from checking emails and finishing off our blog on Syria it was 4 hours wasted as the connection kept failing and we couldn't upload any photos. And this after trying 2 cafes. So we gave up. Sorry guys you will have to wait till we find a decent connection before seeing our photo albums. We went to the pharmacy afterwards to get some throat lozenges for Charlie and Rensche was horrified when the pharmacist suggested giving him Amoxicillin 500mg for his sore throat. Glad to know medicine is easily available but shocked to see it given out willy nilly to the public. Another traveller (German) pointed out to us the mountain where Aaron (Moses's brother) is buried (Num 20:20-29) on mount Hor close to Petra, in the distance. During that night Rensche got horribly sick and kept throwing up during the night untill about midday the next day. Charlie was fine but his cold was getting worse.(man flu) So we had to spend another day in the hotel in Petra with Rensche clutching her stomach and Charlie blowing his nose. Just as well it happened here and not at a camp site...

20/10/07 - Dana - Wadi Musa - 86km

We had a nice breakfast and said our good byes to Raymond and rode down to Wadi Musa, the town that has sprung up next to Petra. Raymond recommended the Valentine Inn and even though Lonely Planet said the staff were rude and pushy and a bad vibe we decided to try it. We were greeted by friendly staff and shown to our 4th floor little room. The hotel is in a cul de sac so the bikes should be safe so we didn't take all our luggage up to our room. Rensche did not feel well so spent the afternoon in the hotel room while Charlie went into town to get cash and chatting to our travellers in the hotel bedouin tent where he met a English guy from York who knew where the rugby would be shown that evening. So after supper we all headed down to the palace hotel bar and watched a scrappy game of SA beating England 15-6 and bringing the World Cup title back to the Southern Hemisphere (it might have been different if that "try scorer" had trimmed his toe nails...). The game ended at 23h45. We grabbed a taxi and got to the hotel just before the curfew of midnight and went to bed ready for an early start to Petra.

19/10/07 - Dana
We had a wonderful rest and very nice breakfast and everybody is very helpful and kind. We met a dutch guy Raymond and decided to do one of the many traisl into the Dana Nature Reserve. So after visiting the very informative visitors centre we took the shortest trail which is for free. It is a return trip down to the valley floor and back up again following a rocky path with sharp switch backs. Going down took us 40minutes but coming back up took us an hour and a half. And we really felt the heat with Rensche going bright red. We spent the rest of the afternoon recovering from our exercise in the bedouin roof tent upstairs overlooking the old partially deserted ruins and the Dana Canyon. That evening we went to the visitors information centre to watch the sunset but it was hazy and overcast so the sun just vanished with a fizzle. When we got back to the hotel a large group of French tourist arrived. We all had a big buffet supper and this while Rensche ran to the toilet to get sick. The buffet was lovely but Rensche could only manage rice. We suspect it was heat exhaustion. After supper we gathered in the Bedouin tent and were entertained by a group of musicians who coaxed us into dancing. Rensche felt better and caught up to the steps immediately wheras Charlie found his third foot. We all retired to our rooms at 10h30. PS Today Charlie's cell balance was only 10 pounds but he only sent a few texts. On phoning Vodafone helpline to top up the phone and enquire about the missing 40 pounds he was informed that this was the charge for the 3 phone calls Charlie made to Vodafone Helpline when we were in Jerash.

18/10/07 - Wadi Al Mujib - Dana Village - 137km
So we decided to stay in our tent...and sit out the storm which we heard coming closer and closer. We ended up spending the night taking turns hanging onto the tent poles while the other catch some ZZZ's as the tent was being flattened by the wind. Our "well ventilated tent" allowed a little sand storm of its own inside and we couldn't breath for the fine dust showering us from outside covering our eyes, noses, ears and everything else. By morning the wind just became worse and we decided we need to pack up the tent before we are blown into the canyon. After getting totally dressed in our bike gear Rensche had the job of keeping the tent down by laying on her back, a boot and hand in every corner to brace tent poles, while Charlie proceeded to fold up and roll and pack all our dust covered possessions. After everything was packed away we went and sat in the restaurant waiting for the wind to subside. We ordered breakfast and coffee and watched a few customers come and go many leaving after seeing the state of the bathroom...And the leftover Boofay from the previous day being recycled. At 11am we finally decided the wind had died down enough for us to leave so Charlie went to pay the bill. The restaurant owner had yesterday conviently forgotten to tell us that it was 5JD PER PERSON and not 5JD per tent as per the rest of Jordan. All in all it came to 22JD because we had breakfast... Beautiful location but wasted opportunity as the restaurant has clearly past its hay day and the owner doesn't seem to care. He even told us how he built his restaurant from the rubble of the Trajan castle across the road. We headed south crossing two more Wadi canyons and arrived Al Karak where we strolled around the Karak Castle which had a very impressive museum. Karak Castle was important in the battles between the crusaders and Saladin during the 12th century. In the Bible it is known as the fortress of Kir Heres in 2Kings 3 where the King of Israel and his allies from Judea and Edom ravaged Moab and besieged King Mesha. After having a lovely buffet lunch amongst bus travelling tourists we headed south and turned off to Dana Village and booked into the Dana Hotel which is a community run project at 15JD per night. We were not ready for another night in the tent yet.

17/10/07 - Amman - Wadi Al Mujib Valley - 160km
We took a taxi to the scooter shop around 09h30 just as Chris was opening. We chatted for a while about Jordan, packed the bikes,paid a very reasonalble rate for the work done (fraction of the UK rates) and headed off. Thanks Chris - if it wasn't for you we would have suffered serious delays. If you are ever in Amman and stuck with a broken bike then we would highly recommend you contact Chris at SprintScooters in the Industrial area of Amman close to all the other motor dealers. He might not be able to fix the problem but will do his best to get you back on the road. GPS N32deg56.747 E35deg50.817 . We took the main motorway west which drops down into the Jordan Valley and arrived at the Baptism Sight at Bethany-beyond-the-Jordan just in time to join a tour group which was very informative. This is the sight where John the Baptist baptised Jesus (John 1:28-34 and Mat 3:13-17). This is also where Elijah ascended into heaven. (2 Kings 2:1-17). Recently, since the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan made this area accesible, 3 Byzantine churches have been found and descriptions from various sources confirmed with great certainty that this was the exact location of the baptism sight. From there we headed down to the Dead Sea but it was so hot and we were so exhausted (and the entrance fee is significant...) we decided to delay our dip in the Dead Sea until our future visit to Israel so we headed back out of the valley to Mount Nebo. This is the sight where, as God promised, Moses saw the Promised Land before dying which he was not allowed to enter. (Deut 34:1-4). There were very beautiful mosaics in the churches. After walking around the sight we sat outside and snacked on some lunch while chatting to four tourist police. They said they really enjoyed our company and we had a few good laughs. From there we went through Madaba which is known for its churches with Mosaics but we were unable to find said churches due to lack of signs so headed on south along the Kings Highway. (Num 20:17). We followed a beautiful road of twisties and gentle rolling hills but with little vegetation and soon reached a very deep gorge which was Wadi-Al-Mujib canyon. We rode down to the canyon floor and back up the other side and just at the top we arrived at Trajan Restaurant with "CAMBING and BOOFAY". We enquired about a tent pitch and were directed to a open patch of ground littered with old crates and barbed wire for 5JD next to the canyon which had a spectacular view. After clearing a patch of ground of rocks and rubble we pitched our tent with the "help" of the camp manager's grandson who touched everything asking "What this?? What this??" pushing buttons and man handling our brittle tent poles. We made our own supper of bully beef and rice and went to bed dirty as there were no showers. Then we noticed a spectacular lightening and thunder show over the Jordan Valley and assumed it would be over in an hour of two. Just after settling in for the night the camp manager came over in the pitch dark offering us a room in his restaurant but we declined as we couldn't pack our tent away now in the dark and couldn't leave it unattended. We said we will see him the next morning to which he replied: "I hope so"...

16/10/07 - Jerash - Amman - zero km
We woke up at 7am, packed the bikes, had breakfast and wondered which route we would take down to Bethany unaware of what the day had install for us. We started Rensche's bike and positioned her across the road ready to head off the minute Charlie's bike started. After kicking till his leg was aching Charlie accepted that the problem was more serious than just a loose wire. Charlie and the kind hotel manager rolled the bike down the hill to a workshop with a volt meter. Charlie described the problem of the electrical fault but the guy started tinkering with the petrol hose on the carburator spraying himself with petrol so Charlie and the hotel manager pushed the bike back up the hill accepting that this guy knew nothing about motorbikes. Back on top of the hill and having recovered (poor Charlie) from pushing a fully loaded bike up a steep hill, the hotel manager trying to push from behind, Charlie checked the spark plug which was fine. Rensche made a U-turn and joined the party back at the hotel. Meanwhile the hotel manager managed to organize a volt meter held together by tape... Charlie swapped the batteries from the two bikes and found that Charlie's bike started immediately from Rensche's battery but that it was only charging at 11.8Volts and not 13.5volts which it should be. When the batteries were swapped back Charlie's bike didn't start at all. Charlie removed his bike's rectifer and noticed a small crack underneath. So all evidence indicated that this was the source of the problem. As there were no mechanics in town that could work on the bike the hotel manager recommended that we get the bike to Amman which is the capital of Jordan and about 40km away. He stopped the first bakkie (pick up truck) that came pass and persuaded the driver to help for 15JD. So we loaded both bikes and luggage on the bakkie and Rensche and Charles followed in the hotel manager's car and we all headed off a Honda dealer in Amman. Arriving at the Honda dealer it was only a car dealer and not a motorcycle dealer. At this point we were getting a bit desperate and the bakkie driver was getting a bit restless with his cargo and seemed ready to dump us on the side of the road. Rensche recalled seeing a motorbike outside a shop around the corner so we headed straight there. It was infact a scooter shop and after some serious discussion between the shop owner and the hotel manager it was agreed to off load the bikes here and hopefully between the shop owner and Charlie the problem would be sorted out. After paying the bakkie driver and saying our grateful farewell to the hotel owner Charlie and the shop owner (Chris) started looking at the bike. There wasn't a work shop so we just made space amongst the brand new stock of scooters on his shop floor and started stripping the bike. Chris had lived in British Columbia for about 8 years and we were very grateful for his perfect english! It was then explained to us that the reason we couldn't find any motorcycle mechanics in Jordan is because it is illegal for Jordanians to own a motorcycle and its only been 2 years since scooters up to 150cc have been allowed. So the current future of our motorbike trip lay in the hands of scooter shop owner! But we were not to be dissapointed. Charlie and Chris had a look at the bike and found that if you held jumper leads unto the bike battery the bike would run but the minute you pulled them away the bike died. This is not a good sign so Chris called his friend over from the scooter shop next door. He built out the entire rotor/generator and sent it off to be tested and was found to be OK. After building the rotor back in we played around with a selection of rectifiers and found one that kept the charge at 13.5volts when the bike was running. So the rectifier was defnitely the problem and now Charlie has a oversized scooter rectifier shoved under his seat. They also had a listen to Rensche's knocking sound which they diagnosed as the bottom bearing seizer and recommended a change of oil. Charlie's bike was up and running just in time for Chris to close his shop and he gave us a lift to downtown Amman in his 1986 Ford Mustang while the bikes were locked up between the scooters in his shop. We walked around looking for a hotel and stopped to ask two old gentleman where we could find a cheap clean hotel to which they just laughed at us! But they did direct us to a 15JD hotel with bed lined from the 70's and a sticky bathroom but OK for one night. We walked around town, bought a kebab and went to bed.....ontop of the linen. What a day!!!

15/10/07 - Jerash
We had a lovely breakfast at the hotel and decided to explore the ruins in the morning. The site contains many ruins including a 4th century cathedral, roman temples, a church from 496AD and St John the Baptist church from 531AD. There are about 15 church ruins in the area. After exploring the ruins we watched an amazing show of Roman war strategy and chariot racing. This was very well presented and informative. Afterwards we decided to go into town in search of an internet cafe and top up Charlie's mobile phone which we have been unable to do since Turkey. After 2 hours of slow connection but very cheap we got a telephone number to phone Vodafone from a landline and managed to top up his phone but for some reason Charlie is still unable to make international calls. So back to the bike. After countless efforts we only managed to kick start Charlie's bike once but the minute we switch on the headlight the bike died. The battery was now officially completely dead. Inspecting under the seat we found that some of the wires comming out of the rectifier were melted so taped them up and hoped for the best as nobody seemed to have a volt meter. (the volt meter bought for this trip was thrown out in the last minute to reduce weight and is now in a container somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean on its way to South Africa...). We hoped that its just flooded and that we will be able to jump start it tomorrow.

14/10/07 - Syria border - Jerash, Jordan
Arriving at the Jordanian border everyone was very helpful and immigration was effortless. Charles had to buy third party insurance at 22JD per bike valid for one month and also had to pay 15JD per bike for road tax. This at 5JD per week in JOrdan. After taking the "back road" and with some assistance from a taxi driver we made it to Umm Qais where we viewed the ruins of Gadara which has both Romans and Ottoman ruins. From this view point there is a spectacular view over the Sea of Galilea and Israel. This is where Jesus called his first deciples and walked on water (Mat 4:18 and John 6). You can also sea the Jordan Valley to the south and Golan Heights and Lebanon to the north. Here Charlie's bike started spluttering and had to be kick started. We thought it was too many things being charged or a short circuit somewhere but hoped it would charge by the time we reach Jerash. We headed to Jerash and after stopping at the tourist information to enquire about information about camp sites we were directed to Hadrian's Gate Hotel. This hotel is overlooking the ruins and Hadrians Gate, has a garage for motorbikes and bicycles (no cars) and each room has a TV with 300 channels, own bathroom and very clean. But at 30JD per night breakfast included. Charlie had a look at the bike and found a bare wire from the handlebar to the headlight which we taped up. The bike still wouldn't start on the button so being tired we decided to leave the bikes and tackle it in the morning. We had a lovely supper at a local family restaurant where all the food was braaied (BBQ) and we had humus starter, lamb kebab and beef kebab. All for 8JD! We headed back and watched some CNN and BBC to catch up on the world affairs and channel hopped to find the rugby (SA vs Argentina semi-final) but no such luck. So went to bed.