Journey to the Red Sea – part four; Awakening on Eid


I was awoken at somewhere around 5am, there was utterly terrible noise blasted into my bedroom, putting the pillow around my ears didn’t help, a deep bass male Arabic voice drones in this dream like dirge, it seem to go on for ages before I eventually had some silence.

After wondering what it was, I realised it was because it was Eid, an important Islamic festival, hence people buying goats and sheep for slaughter the previous day, outside the hotel is a mosque with a large minaret, it was this that broadcasts the Muslim prayers at an uncomfortably early hour.   Getting up and using the shower it was clear why the hotel was cheap, plumbing and electrics in the middle east and not the same as they are in the west.   The basin was partly coming away from the wall and the toilet only had one (loose) bolt holding it to the floor so it wobbles, when you flush it, water (clean fortunately!) comes out of the cistern.   Two other toilets I have seen in other parts of Jordan had the whole top of the cistern missing requiring the user to put their hand inside and pull the ball-cock lever thing to flush it.

There are several well known hotel chains in Wadi Moussa, one of them is the Movenpick (think this is also a Norwegian brand ice cream?)  right next to Petra’s entrance, the others are much further up the multiple Z shaped bends, being out of the way of the noisy chants of the mosques.

But for all this the hotel staff were very friendly, the younger chap was about 22 and said he had been to a University (Leeds I think he said) in the UK, and his Dad was the main owner of this place.

So I headed out to the famous historical site that is Petra.

The price to get in is I think was 22 Dinars, there were discounts for two or three days visits, this required a signature check to stop tickets being resold.  The Jordanian Dinar is close-ish to the value of the UK Pound, something like 85-90 pence.

The front of the place was a amusing Indiana Jones banner on a van with gifts for sale, there are many stands all over the park, some up the top of the mountain tents, providing local made jewellery and souvenirs to those who climb up to the top.

Well not a lot to say that cant be said in pictures, Petra is truly spectacular!!!!

Will put on pictures of Petra very soon.


things I have learnt since being 30

Started getting into classical music.

As opposed to be against such in such type of band, I found my choices in tunes gets wider and wider, listening to composers like John Williams and Ennio Moriconni and listening to most film sound tracks at epic times of life means movie-like choruses which sound pretty darn good in my own private little world, especially when travelling to new places in my car or on holiday with my ipod.

Being asked why I have an old mobile phone.

Because 1) I grew out of the must have the latest phone type thing, and have a 30 day SIM subscription which is cheaper and suits my quickly cancel and disappear into the middle east life style and 2) I actually love my Motorola RAZR, and don’t want a horrible stupid slider type thing!   its the perfect size when closed, has decent big buttons when opened, hasn’t got too many scratches, don’t need to lock the keypad as I just close the lid, it still works and does everything I want it to.  🙂

Besides my phone still looks suitably gangsta-like.   When was the last time you saw a bad guy in a movie with a Samsung?

Living with lots of different people.

No not like that, meant that I have shared 3 different rented houses and lived with (still counts,) about 12 different people, some nice, some were not so pleasant, I am still yet to get my own little place though….   Being better prepared for dealing with awkward people, and probably should be able to cope with when I eventually get married a good deal better than when I was when I was 25…

Wanting to buy things for my next house.

In the same way people get broody and want to buy baby stuff (note this not me)  I have an urge to buy things for when I get my own house at unsuitable times, mainly getting middle east style bits and pieces, old Bedouin style tea pots, brightly coloured throws, tiled coffee tables, stuff for kitchen, even though getting my own place is a long way off yet.   (I dont even have a job at the moment!)

Having less hair (yes, balding)

No point in fighting it, I just tend to shave most of it off, less to maintain.   Lots of people my age in the UK and in Israel have very short hair, and apart from needing a hat for when its cold, it works well for me…

Like being yourself.

Because those three decades have taught me that there is no point in following someone else’s style…

The operation

Yesterday I had to go into QA Hospital at 7.30am to have an operation involving a plate in screws or wire to fix my elbow.   The previous day had 9 people in to have fractures or breaks seen to.

Despite its large size and that it has gone purple-ish, I wasn’t in too much pain as it was set in a 90 degree angle in a sling.

Once in, my parents took me in as my dad wasn’t working that day, after a while I was given a bed, after various nurses, doctors and consultants all asked me the same questions, if I were right handed, if I had heart problems, epilepsy or diabetes or anything that could cause a problem during an operation, I had a big arrow drawn on with pen on my left hand, and got asked to undress and put on an NHS nightie.

I grew more and more fearful of what was going to happen, the last operation I had was in 1985 (when I was about nine) for a tonsillectomy.  The cheerful male nurse called Adam who was quite chatty told me he was born then, for me it felt hard to imagine not being concious before the op, and that something could go wrong with me waking up at the wrong moment or something like that.

Its worth mentioning QA hospital has undergone a big revamp with I think at a least £100m or so probably just for this new block.

So, at about 10am or so, I get wheeled down on my bed to the theatre.  Just before then I got a briefing from my surgeon who told me that they had a meeting and are going to go with the steel wire wrapped around the elbow to hold it place to make it heal.  Once on the corridor on the way I pass all kinds of exotic looking medical equipment parked in the hall, once I arrive in the theatre I look up to see the dreaded large medical lamps directly above me, although being new these use lots of ultra bright LEDs rather than fluorescent tubes.

I get introduced to Claire, who tells me she is going to be my anaesthetist today, and by golly she is very very pretty, with blonde hair and big blue eyes, its not just nurses that just have the feminine charm in medicine, I try telling her about when I worked for the Portsmouth trust I was working for as she injects me with something, and how more recently I was at the Southampton trust, as the also very new Lymington hospital in the New Forest has similarities to the block I am in and I notice I am losing the ability to speak, shes just tells me to put on a mask and breathe the oxygen deeply, I think I only got 4 breaths of this before I don’t remember anything else….

I wake up back in the corner of the ward I was in earlier.  I am in a nest of wires and tubes, well not that many, but I have sling with my bad arm in, a cord round my wrist with a handset I can use to press a switch to feed me with morphine if I have too much pain, my right hand has a stent with a tube which will feed morphine or plain water, I am a bit concerned about the tubes as they are easily pinched by me sitting on them or wrapped around the bars on the side of the bed.

My parents and sister are with me the rest of the day, but I drift in and out of conciousness that afternoon and evening.   By the next day, I haven’t slept that well but I am ready for breakfast and I get some porridge and toast.  After then I get some new pain killers and some coffee, so the strong effects of the tablets meant my coffee gets recycled back onto one of those cardboard plates provided for this purpose.  Trying to go for a wee in special paper-mache box under the bed clothes is also very strange and feels just plain wrong.   Part of the reason I feel sick is it is too darn warm in this ward, hospitals have this annoying habit of having the heat whacked all the way up all the time, whilst the bloke opposite me is out in a clinic for half and hour I use the time to stand by his bed next to the open window to get fresh air and to stop me being from feeling queasy.   I have half of my lunch (which wasnt all that great)  and my mother has come, I put my clothes back on, and I get the all clear to go home and three sets of tablets to be taken each day.

I haven’t dared looked inside my sling and bandages, but it appears the wires hold the two halves of the broken bone together helping the healing process.   The most risky part was damaging any nerves could impair or paralyse part of my arm, I have perfect control of my fingers and wrist so it looks like a complete success so far.

The other three chaps in the ward are much older, one of the two older gents both called Ken is 86 and has been there for a few weeks.

Things could of been worse, I could of landed on my wrist or shoulder which would of been much more unpleasant and harder to heal.  Also whilst I am typing this I just saw on TV about an American woman who was on holiday in earthquake struck Haiti who has had her leg crushed and amputated.

I am grateful for the progress God has made with healing of me so far.

I would request I need the wisdom to plan part two of my return to the holyland, this might seem like a big spanner in the works, but as I have seen three other volunteers go through bones fractures at some point, I know someone else that got in a plane with arm in sling so there is no reason why I cant do it either…