From the Dead to the Red – by Roberto Pierobon

My friend Piero calls me up as he want to talk to me about an idea that has been whirling in his head for some time now: a trip starting from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea, biking along the ancient King’s Path. That very same evening I start looking for some info on the internet (what would adventurous voyagers do without it!?!?). I go on Google Maps and I try to check the itinerary: it can be done! I search for associations that organize mountain bike excursions; I find few of then and immediately send an email explaining what I want to do. Some of them don’t even reply, some of them do, so I chose the one that looks more thrust-worthy judging from their websites. We get in touch to agree on the program and ask them to send me an estimate. The day I receive it, I call Piero whom surprisingly accepts immediately and decides to include a friend of his in this adventure. We are now at Venice airport leaving to Amman, not before a stop in Zurich where we meet the rest of the group: Teo and Milena coming from Bologna and Giacomo from Brussels, the only one that knows English well and therefore unanimously elected the official translator of the trip. Once we land in Amman, after a moment of confusion caused by a misunderstanding with the travel agency concerning the visa’s procedures, we find Atef, our local contact that takes us outside to meet with Ghepard, whom from now on will be our driver and will follow us with his minivan throughout the entire trip. They take us to the hotel, where we leave our luggage and take possession of our rooms, three doubles with Teo and Milena in one, Piero and Lorella in the other, and Giacomo and I in the last one: this will be the sleeping arrangement from now on. After refreshing a bit we meet down at the reception area to go for a walk in the city of Madaba. Here we see the mosaic representing the Promised Land and after strolling around we dine at a beautiful local restaurant. We literally stuff ourselves with typical delicacies and I must say the food in Jordan is very good and none of us has never had any complains about it.


Mount Nebo – Observation Point

After breakfast, our driver takes us to pick up the bikes and over there we meet Anas, our guide who will bike with us. Just a small inconvenient: the bikes do not have the attachments for the shoes, so we decide to us our trekking shoes instead, with the regular pedals. After settings the bikes, we start pedaling and here is where the real adventure starts. After few miles, we notice several menacing clouds above our heads. We start discussing the situation and arrive to the conclusion that: “It only rains one a year in Jordan, do we really think it’s going to happen to us? Nooo, it’s impossible!”. Soon after a torrential rain forces us to jump in the minivan that, just to be safe, Ghepard luckily keeps it near by. We wait until it stop and start over. We reach Mount Nebo, where we visit Moses Memorial: it seems he died here before he was able to reach the Promised Land. We arrive at a shepherd’s house around noon where his very kind family will have us as guests for lunch. We sit on the floor covered with rugs, around a large tray containing chicken, rice, potatoes and vegetables.


Lunch with the shepherd’s family

After lunch, we visit the backyard where the shepherd shows us his family’s pride: a dromedary that along with some goats is part of his herd.  After we leave we outflank Mukawi, a village famous for the Macheronte fortress ruins, were Herod beheaded John the Baptist to fulfill Salome’s wish and soon after we start our descent towards the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth: about four hundred meters below sea level. Some parts of the path are so steep the women in the group decide to get off the bike and walk instead. We reach the hotel where we will spend the night about an hour later. Since we have some time, we choose to go for a swim, intrigued by what we always heard about it: you will always stay afloat, no matter what, and it’s so true! We try everything: standing up, with both hands and feet out of the water, on our stomach, on the side: there’s no way one can sink! Be careful though! The water is so salty and has the consistency of oil: if it gets into your eyes or if you have even a small cut, it burns so bad you need to immediately wash it off with fresh water. We go back to the hotel for dinner and then go to sleep. Just a small detail about our four stars hotel: Giacomo and I have a suite with a sitting room, two bathrooms and a huge bedroom with a view on the sea, but so does everybody else. Not bad at all!


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