3 October 2022

We wanted adventure! We got adventure!!

It was hot as heck outside. A little over 100 degree F. Inside Mahmoud’s air conditioned car, we were, of course, cool and comfortable. Screaming down Jordan Highway 65, looking out and watching the cars on Israel Highway 90 on the other side of the border.

And then boom! We hit adventure. In a moment reminiscent of what happened to us in Mongolia, we burst our front left tire!!

Mahmoud quickly pulled over to the side. A minor inconvenience, I reckoned. I got out of the car too with Mahmoud. Wanted to help him move the suitcases out of the boot so we could take the spare out and fit it in. We were only 45 minutes away from our destination – Aqaba.

However, Mahmoud made no effort to open the boot. He looked at the tire and started making phone calls. After he was done, I asked him – “Shall we put the spare in?”.

That is when I learnt that we had no spare!! This is exactly what had happened to us in the middle of the desert in Mongolia. We had to wait there til we saw a jeep coming in the horizon, wave him down and took his spare.

We were in the desert again. Once more, with a flat. This time, I was wondering what was going to happen. It was hot, hot, hot.

“You go sit inside. Jordanian people are good. We will get help soon.”

I went inside and explained to Sharmila what was happening. And then must have spent about two minutes on my phone trying to mark the spot on Google maps. I looked behind to see what Mahmoud was up to.

Sure enough, another car had come and stopped behind us. Mahmoud was speaking to him in a very animated fashion.

After a couple of minutes, both of them came by.

“Hello sir! I am Ali from a nearby place Karak. I will take you and Mahmoud to Aqaba.”, he spoke in perfect English.

We got out thinking – “Ah our problems had been solved”.

Well, one problem. Or a couple of problems. First, the car was very small. There was no way our suitcases would fit.

“Just take your passports”, said Ali. So I grabbed my back pack. And we left our car by the roadside – with our luggage in it!!

And the car had no air conditioner. So, we proceeded on our trip in a very small car in bright sunlight at 103 degrees with windows down screaming down the highway at about 100 mph (60mph). Sharmila and I were on the west side of the car – so the sun was in full blast on us. I was personally getting baked. Sharmila put on a brave face, determined to weather it all.

Mahmoud and Ali were talking loudly all this time in Arabic. To ears not used to the language, it seemed that they were saying a lot of “l”s and “h”s and throwing in an occasional “b” or “m” to break the monotony. Later, Ali explained to me that he was telling Mahmoud to always carry a spare.

In about 10 minutes, we suddenly got off the road to a side road. In a couple of minutes, we were in a village. Looking for a store that might have tires.

Good news! We found a car shop!! They had tires!

Bad news!! None of them matched the size we wanted!

So, we continued on the road again.

In about 20 minutes, the military stopped us. Just a routine check. Ali and Mahmoud explained the situation. Not knowing much Arabic, at least that was my guess about what was going on. The military personnel asked if we had our American passports. Thanking Ali for his idea before, I produced the passports. And we were waved by.

Another 10 minutes later, we came upon a green taxi. Mahmoud got off and said he will find a tire, fix the car and come back and see us in the hotel. He went off in the taxi. Ali continued with us and then dropped us at our hotel.

Mahmoud, as it turns out, did find a tire and go back to his car. And there was more drama waiting for him there. By the time he reached there, our car was surrounded by Jordanian military. They were leery about a car standing by the road without anybody in sight. Remember, we were barely half a mile away from the Israeli border.

But they had noticed the flat tire. So, instead of forcing their way in, they were busy making phone calls trying to track the owner and driver down.

Eventually, everything was back where they were supposed to be. And the three of us sat down at the Al Manara hotel for some beer and wine to take the sunset in.

And going over the story in our heads over and over again!

Posted October 3, 2022 by Rajib Roy in category "Vacations

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