Multiple Personalities

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My stomach hurts from laughing so hard. The view of the night sky from the roof of the Dana Tower Hotel is really something special, Milky Way, shooting stars and all – and yet I’ve spent the last two hours face-down on my mattress choking on laughter. And all because of the wonderful invention that is Psychiatrist.

Today has been, without a shadow a doubt, the most ridiculous series of adventures yet. I’m all fired out from the mind games we’ve been playing, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg – the last of a long sequence of madcap antics since waking up at Nancy’s this morning. The family, a lovely bunch who offered to put us up for the night in the otherwise accommodation-void town of Tafileh, rustled up a wonderful breakfast for us in much the same line as the night before: energy food galore. Andrew and I crept away to write the family a thank you letter and packed our bags into a corner of the room to go. The family came in and served tea, and there we were, in what can only be described as a hospitable but highly awkward state of siege. We wanted to get on our way, but at the same time we kept being denied the opportunity; on our second attempt, just as we’d reached a decision, we were invited to join them for mansaf, which we couldn’t really deny, seeing as they’d already started. Then followed several rounds of ‘the Moon is in the Spoon’, which only the father of the family could get his head around, and he didn’t even play a single round with us. Another hour and a half later it was pushing three o’clock and they looked to be after a second night, which had to be postponed if we should ever get to see Dana at all. We had four oranges we could have given them as gratitude but it seemed more awkward a gift than none at all, paltry as it was. So having got them out, we packed them back into the bag and made our broken farewells before finally crossing the threshold and striking out for the road, though not before receiving another invite should we ever be in Tafileh again.

The next half hour was a world away. From the almost entirely female household of Nancy’s world we moved on to a minibus carrying half a platoon of Jordanian soldiers on their way to a wedding party, though it could just as easily have been a stag night, for all I know. It certainly sounded as much. The ringleader tried to press cigarettes on us all in turn whilst a guy in the row in front of me kept slapping his chest and yelling “sniper, sniper – best in Jordan”. Climbing aboard was a bit of a rogue move, since we didn’t really know where it was going, but it ended up to be heading our way, and it was totally worth it for the experience. When we were finally dropped off in Ar-Rashādiyya, we were well and truly worn out. The following minibus ride to Dana was notable only in that I lost any and all feeling in my legs; the driver loaded the five of us plus one of the grunts into his ride, kitted out with a very inconveniently placed sub-woofer, so that I had to endure a twenty minute drive sat sideways with my legs crushed between the dashboard, my bag and the grunt’s physique, with the driver ramming the gear stick into the small of my back every few minutes. By the time we got to Dana I felt like I’d been amputated.

Dana is beautiful, though. Maybe it’s because we’re here in the lowest of low season, but it was almost deserted. Not a modern construction in sight and plenty of scrambling opportunities; almost stone for stone the way I wanted it to be. We scrambled up the mountainside for a killer sunset over the canyon before dinner, which was well worth the extra dinars, though being stuffed to the gills with Nancy’s mensaf we were hard-pressed to do the chef justice. So to kill time (and an unusually full stomach) I introduced the team to Psychiatrist. Chaos ensued, as it invariably does with that madcap thinking game, but at least I saw it played properly for the first time. The lack of alcohol really does help.

Sounds like everyone’s kipped out. Andrew and Andreas stopped talking a few minutes ago. I guess I’d better follow suit. Early start tomorrow. My walking boots are so ready for this. BB x  

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