Crossing-Africa Newsletter IV

25-11-2002 UN (UNIFIL)

As the diving instructor did not have time for me today I decided to go to the south of Lebanon. There is a UN mission there called UNIFIL and as I had an invitation from a Indian UN-worker there I decided to go and meet him.

On my way down I drove through the town of Saida. And As I crossed the check point entering the town a sleepy military officer started Jellying at me after I crossed. I pretended I did not hear him and just drove on. In the middle of town I was stopped by a police officer that only spoke Arabic and I still don’t so… But some bystanders spoke English and told me that Bikes are not allowed in Saida. (I all ready knew that as the Dutch Embassy told me but I just gave it a try. 😉 Only I did not know the reason.) After waiting 20 minutes he just waived me on and I was on my way to my final destination for the day.
The roads got worse as I was heading south but Dipak (the Indian guy) was waiting for me at the UN post and showed me around the place and had some great Indian food with some of his friends. (The next day the food was not so good any more… at least not for my stomach). I slept at his place and went back to Beirut the next day.


On my way to the south I could pretend not to know about bikes being forbidden in Saida, but on my way back I could not fake that any more. So I decided to head into the mountains and avoid Saida that way. By now I also know the reason bikes are forbidden there. . . It is because the killed five judges from the back of a bike and never caught the guys who did it because they where too fast on the bike.
So without a map I headed into the mountains where they’re no signposts so locals helped me out to find my way back to Beirut.

In the afternoon I did a nice dive and was finally able to clear my ears properly! So now I loved it.

27-till-29-11-2002 NOT MUCH

Strolling around Beirut, doing some shopping, Internet, Diving and Movies, as there is the European Film Festival in Beirut. Went to two of them, one German movie Called “Berlin is in Germany” and a Dutch one “The Black Meteor” Both the directors where there and you could ask them questions about the movie, which was really good.
And further, I relaxed!

30-11-2002 TO SYRIA AGAIN

Called the Sudan Embassy in the morning and they still have not heard a thing so I decided to go en route again and call them from neighbouring countries as they will send it to Cairo anyway. Plan was to go to Damascus and stay there for the night. Only 200 km so no hurries.
In Damascus I tried to fiend the “Lonely Planet – cheapies”, which took me quite some time but a friendly German Cyclist told me where it was and also told me there where to German Motor bikers in the some hotel! The first Overlanders they met and I met!
The are on there way to Australia, but don’t know yet if they will go via India or Africa. (They decided in the end it would be Africa! Good Choice!)


Did some work on the bike in the morning as my all my lights broke down and visited the Mosque in the Old City and a Hammam in the evening which was really good and should have done that way before! Had Dinner with the four Germans.

02-12-2002 BOSRA

Went to one of the most southern towns of Syria, Bosra. Known for its Roman Theatre where you can spend the night as well. What I did! After the visit I went for a stroll through the Old City and met a French girl there and was in Bosra for here studies, being Photography. She had all this equipment and till the moment I met here I did not miss my Reflex Camera but NOW I DO! Spend the evening with here and some locals talking about whatever.

03-12-2002 BAD LUCK

From Bosra, Syria I wanted to go to Dana Nature Reserve in Jordan.
About 50 dollars less in my wallet I was in Jordan without much hassle, only that they forgot to stamp my carnet when I entered Syria for the second time and they did not know what to do with it at the exit, but waived me through after 15 minutes.

From the border I drove through very busy Damascus and from there to Madaba, headed for the Ma’in hot springs as the road to there is one of the most stunning in Jordan (And it was!)
But I wanted to go further south so from Madaba I went en route for my night stop, what I wanted to be Kerak.
BUT 5 km outside Madaba I decided to overtake a truck and as I was at his side he decide to overtake a car and pushed me of the road at about 70 km/hour.
I don’t know what happened all after that but as I opened my eyes again, I saw all my gear spread over almost 200 meters with my spare tyres the furthest.
The Tesch boxes and the X-travels frame to fit the boxes completely ripped apart.

After 30 minutes Ambulance arrived and after another 30 minutes the police. They took my stuff to the police station and I went by ambulance to the Madaba Hospital.
At the hospital they took some X-rays and nothing was broken, only a bruised finger and very bruised left foot. (I should have bought the real off road boots and nothing would be wrong ;-( )
The police came to pick me up to see if I had all my stuff and take a statement and transported me and my stuff to a hotel in town. And been told to report at the police station the next day at 0900 hours.
I had a good sleep as the painkiller they gave me did its job very well!

04-12-2002 They gave ME a fine!

Woke up to late and got at the police station around 09:30 but nobody seemed to bother, they are all so friendly to me, I could not believe. From the station I was transferred to court to explain my accident.
They told me that I made a sudden move and therefore caused an accident (the report in Arabic says that) I explained it was not I that did that but the truck driver! But no the report said it was me so pay 30JD or go to jail! (30JD is 45 dollar). I said I would like to speak with the Police officer that wrote the report because he wasn’t even there when it happened and I explained to him what happened, so %$^%$^*(*&.
The told me to come back in a month time! NO WAY, it is now the 15th of December but I think it is cheaper to just pay the fine and move out of this place! So I decided to come back tomorrow and pay the fine and get all my papers back.

As I come back to the hotel they forgot to tell me that as Ramadan finishes today all the shops and government are closed for 5 days, THANKS!!! (Everybody seems nice, don’t they.)
So now I am stuck here till Tuesday, to pay the fine and go on! And give my foot the best of rest till then.

After that I gave the German bikers a call as he appears to be an expert on bikes and they planned to go south as well. The told me that they will help me out thanks god! That’s a real booster for me! So I will try to make the same luggage system as them as it is SO simple, I wonder why I did not think of that before!

05-12-2002 Sinterklaas

In Holland it is Sinterklaas today, something you celebrate with the family and my first special day without them.
I slept till 14:00 hours and did not do a thing, except that I met some Belgium’s that are going to take some broken stuff home, like my laptop. (The second time I send broken stuff home and I hope the last!)