A Distinct Lack of Bluebirds

Two days until touchdown in Jordan. Officially speaking, that means my Year Abroad starts in earnest on Friday. Two words for that: country fudge. That sure came around fast. Two months in the Middle East yawning before me. A grey yawn rather than a black one, in that I don’t really know what to expect. I’ve done a bit of long-distance travel in Uganda and seen my fair share of Arab cities in Morocco – loved Fes, found Marrakesh over-hyped and absolutely loathed Casablanca – so I’m in the dark as regards Amman.

I’ve had loads of helpful suggestions from friends, friends of friends and their sixth-cousin-once-removed on what to see and do in the city, but if I’m honest, I’ve only skim-read most of them. Just once, I’d like to go somewhere without knowing the place inside out and back to front. That, of course, is more often than not down to copious procrastination, which requires you to have a lot of time on your hands; something which, for once, I don’t really have. Diving blindfolded, basically. It’s not the safest way to do it, but since when was the Middle East ever truly safe? (…nope, I’m not expecting you to follow that logic. I struggle with it sometimes) Of course, it’d feel a lot safer with all this outstanding admin tied up, over and done with, but I’m still wading through that. With a little luck, I’ll have most of it resolved by tomorrow evening. Fingers, as ever, well and truly crossed.

Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold

It’s good to be back in West Sussex again. I needed that two-day soujourn at home to see Dad and the bro – and the cats, one less than last time – but two days is barely long enough to settle in. It was more seeing like a snapshot of life back home: Dad out for work before eight, bro up and about on his bike a couple of hours later. I guess what I needed most of all was that long walk home along the cliffs. I’d forgotten just how long a walk it is: finding your way from Dover Priory station almost all the way to Walmer is a two hour effort at least. It’d be a lot faster if you could just walk along the road, of course, but the last time I tried that a police car ended up taking me the rest of the distance, with no shortage of suspicious glances. Never again. Besides, when the weather’s as fine as it was, the clifftops is the place to be on a summer’s afternoon.

Blue Skies over the White Cliffs of Dover

Blue Skies over the White Cliffs of Dover

No place to be alone, though. In two hours and ten minutes of walking I never saw another lonely soul on the cliffs. But then, that’s nothing new. No shortage of families and lovestruck couples, however. And why not? It’s a stunning backdrop, once you get away from the noisy port down below. It was a little too hazy to see France clearly, but you could just about make out the shoreline on the horizon. Some of my companions – the ones who (wisely) stuck to their guns and studied French – are already working over there. I’ll be heading that way, too; only, a few thousand kilometres further. If only that flight could stretch just a little further and land me in Yemen. Bah, cut the middle man, just drop me somewhere in the Ethiopian Highlands. Gap Yah alert, but I’m having major Africa withdrawal symptoms right now. If I didn’t have this morbid disdain for cities, I might well have made a beeline for SOAS over Durham. Perhaps.


No regrets, though! There’ll be another time, I’m sure. In the meantime I’d better get packing, form-filling and brushing up on the Arabic; al-Kitaab’s gone neglected for over a month now. And then, and only then, will I try to decide between Ethiopia, South Africa and Cameroon as the next grand adventure… BB x

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