Day 046 Jordan : Jerash - Al Azraq Oasis

Day 046 Jordan

Trip Distance 117 km (73 m) Total Distance 7696 km (4783 m)
Diesel Costs JD0.335    
Al Azraq Oasis
Azraq Resthouse & Hotel

N32.29584 E35.85479



The less said about this part of our trip, the better.  In terms of the trip, it was a bit of a waste of time, but in terms of our learning curve, it went through the roof. 

Last night we had met up with some more overlanders.  John and Olwyn in their motorhome travelling from UK via North Africa and on their way back home, and Meik (Mike) having done 8 months of volunteer work in Malawi was on his way back home to Germany and travelling with is friend Bjorn in his landie, Lilongwe-Hamburg Expressa_SG102053 .  They'd had a bit of a hard time of it during the passed couple of weeks because of a broken back diff but they had managed to have it sorted in Amman.  Later I was kicking myself for not having got the Land Rover dealers name from Meik! 

So we shared some coffee and breakfast with Meik and Bjorn, had some more coffee with Olwyn, waved goodbye to the boys a_SG102055 and started to pack.  Yesterday we had arranged with a garage in Jerash to use their pit to service Sully.  Once we were ready, we set off, happy in the knowledge that we would be on the road again in a couple of hours after Sully's service and a bit of last minute shopping in Jerash.  Haha, not to be! 

We set Sully up over the pit in the garage, drained the oil, changed the oil filter and went through all the service checks and changes including changing the fuel filter for a new one.  What we failed to do was fill the new fuel filter with diesel and as a result when we tried to start her, we pumped the fuel system full of air and would she start?  Not on your nelly.  It took us nearly 15 minutes of head scratching before we realised what we'd done.  And then we spent another 3.5 hours trying to sort it out. :o)

We called Land Rover in the UK only to be told that we needed a special tool for the low pressure fuel system in order to bleed it.  Did this tell us this before we left? Nooooo.  We tried calling contacts in the UK and they told us to try (a) switch on ignition (but not turn the engine over) several times to get the automatic fuel lift pump to try and feed fuel through the system - didn't work (b) try switching the ignition several times and pump the accelerator - didn't work (c) try forcing fuel into the system by blocking the fuel tank with rags and pumping compressed air in - didn't try this but it was our last resort.  We then managed through sign language, charades and some broken English to mime all of this out to the mechanic.  So about 2.5hrs later, Moeen (the taxi driver) arrived, thank goodness and started to translate and he called in another diesel mechanic.  He brought a hand pump with him and proceeded to pump diesel into the system, stage by stage.  All of this time, we were trying to start the engine but it just wouldn't start.  As it was Friday everyone was on their way home for their "Sunday".  So Moeen called a man he knew with a tow truck to take us to Amman 50kms away so that we could have Sully seen to the next day at the Land Rover Dealership that Meik had told us about.  As we were ready to put her on the truck, Trevor tried one last time to start her.  "Vrooooom, vrooooom," went Sully.  "Hooray!" we went and started to dish out some money and cigarettes to thank everyone for their time.  Then we were on our way with another valuable lesson tucked under our ever tightening belts.

We were heading for the Al Azraq Oasis and Shaumari Reserve.  After driving for a couple of hours, we eventually reached Zarqa where they were doing extensive road works.  As a result we lost our way and couldn't find the road to Azraq so we stopped to ask some traffic cops.  "Not to worry", they said, "it's a bit complicated with the roadworks - we'll take you."  So off they rode, blue lights flashing, hooters blaring and clearing the way ahead of us!!!  It was the first time we EVER had a police escort.  They drove abreast and chatted with lights flashing and escorted us for about 25kms outside of Zarqa till ahead of us we saw a road sign IRAQ, SAUDIA ARABIA, AZRAQ and we knew we were headed in the right direction.  With a friendly wave, they turned off as we continued on ahead.  This was to be the most interesting part of the trip!

We drove on through the desert and passed through another 5 police patrols where our passports were checked and drove passed numerous military installations before we finally reached Azraq.  To our disappointment we discovered that the Shaumari Reserve is closed with no indication of when it would open again and the oasis was not what we were expecting as it was completely dry with not a drop of water in sight.  So we headed for the Azraq Resthouse & Hotel where we were allowed to camp.  For JD20 we we allowed to camp in the parking lot, use the swimming pool and the showers and loos.  YEUGH!  Stay away!  The outside toilets and showers were disgustingly dirty with only cold water.  When we spoke to the manager to complain, he asked us what we expected for JD20???  The cheek of it!  So we insisted that we had hot showers throughout Jordan for less, when he eventually relented and let us use a room.  They were as dirty and revolting as the outside ones but the water was warm so we used it and fell asleep to the gentle sound of exploding shells and flashing tracers from tank manoeuvres.  As soon as we could the next morning, we left.