Karak

 

We arrived in Karak after a grueling ride past the Dead Sea. Our original intent was to stay at the Dead Sea for a few days and enjoy the sensation of floating in the water and reading a book, as seen in all the tourist brochures. In reality, we couldn't get out of the area fast enough. Admittedly, we were there at the wrong time of year. Riding through, it must have been 50 C (122 F) or thereabouts. Days earlier we had left Palmyra in Syria, where it was 41 C, and it was not nearly as hot. The road along the Dead Sea is about 350-400 meters below sea level.

 

Arriving in Karak, we ended up at an altitude of 1,007 meters, a much better environment.

 

We were there to visit what is popularly known as Saladin's Castle. Although there is not much left of the place, it has a lot of historical significance.

 

 

 

Like Craq de Chevaliers in Syria, there were a few real tourist traps. All along the outside of the ruins, you could step over the edge quite easily and drop a few hundred feet before hitting something hard, a situation know in climbing circles as a "one-bouncer".

 

The innocuous protrusion seen in the picture above was actually a hole. It would have been a tight fit for yours truly, but anyone a tad narrower would have easily slid through.

 

 

We stayed at altitude to reach our next destination and took the King's Highway to Petra. It is a secondary road running between the highway and another main road, both heading south to Aqaba. It was a good choice, as along the way we were rewarded with some amazing scenery and lots of twisty roads in excellent condition. We stopped to take the pictures below. The width of the canyon is about twice that of the Grand Canyon, but without the spectacular rock formations and colors. The goats, comfortable on the steep slopes, belonged to the Bedouin village below.

 

 

 

I made a second stop in Karak after leaving Aqaba. Jan wanted to go to Wadi Rum in the desert, but I had enough of the grueling heat, knowing that I'd encounter more of it in Iran and Pakistan. Staying in the same hotel as before, I was confronted with a vibrant part of the organized crime scene in Karak. While having breakfast, a plumber brought in a water meter with a length of pipe on each end. After blowing air through the contraption with a compressor, the hotelier was satisfied it reflected a well adjusted amount of consumption for that month. Having worked in the electric utility industry for a good long time, I'm somewhat familiar with the scams used in the US around stealing electricity and found this quite amusing. A knowing frown to the hotelier resulted in a long explanation of why he did this. Apparently, water is only supplied every 3 or so days in Karak, and most people have large reservoirs they fill up when the water flows. The problem is that when the water gets turned on again, the lines are filled with air and spin the meters before actual water comes out. The plumber in question had made a business out of supplying "adjusted" water meters when actual measurements were taken. A peek in his pickup revealed about 100 similar units.