Why the road to Al Azraq made me sing Hotel California


On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light

Swap the colitas for oranges and the shimmering light for a young chap with a tea tray and this could have been California.    Except it wasn’t it was Jordan, and it was the road known as the desert highway.  The road that leads from Aqaba in the south of Jordan to Damascus.   Well it did lead to Damascus, it stops at the border now.   The signs still say you can get to Syria, as well as Saudi and Iraq and it is only then that you realise this is the corner of four warzones.  And the very reason that my family were apprehensive about me coming on this trip.   The road follows an old railway line and to say the road is poor quality is an understatement.  It is so bad that the Saudis are paying for a new one to be built along side it, so fed up are they of their lorries being damaged.  Lorries bringing fuel southwards.

Road Sign

But we were going north last week, from Amman to the Azraq refugee camp.   The Eagle’s track was playing in my head as we bounced along in our minibus clutching our hot coffees and singing along to Justin Bieber, Adele and Miley Cyrus on the radio.    We had promised to take oranges with us today as we had been told by one of the families we had me the day before that they couldn’t afford fruit.   And we knew we would be talking football, and everybody knows footballers have oranges at half time so we stopped to grab some en route.

Orange Stall

I was intrigued by the young man waving a silver tray by the side of the road.  It thought initially it might be a hub cab and he was signalling that they could be bought here.  Elias explained to me though that it was just a tea tray.  He stands and waves to the truck drivers to signal that they can stop for refreshments.   He will take their orders and return with it to the cab for them.   A Jordanian take on a drive through.

Highway Stop



What we really weren’t expecting on this trip was the sight below.   They pulled up along side us as we headed further out of the city and were quite happy to allow us to take photos (believe me we did ask before snapping away, using that universal language through a car window doing 70mph of a thumbs up, thumbs down signal).   Off to patrol the border between Jordan and Syria and make everybody feel safe.

En route to Azraq

A real reminder of where we were.  And that this was more than just another motorway.

For us though it was our route to Azraq and delivering our oranges


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