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06/02/11 – Aramaic towns and fixing the broken stove

March 5, 2011

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I sleep surprisingly well despite the noise during the night, and enjoy a bread and marmite (thanks mum) breakfast before opting for the highway option to take me the rest of the way to the monastery.

I’m making good time, so take a little detour to check out Maalula, the only remaining conurbation that still speaks the original language of Jesus – Aramaic – although there is little evidence of this. There is a nice monetary at the top of the hill that I check out briefly before heading back into town to try in vain to fix my stove – the shopkeeper can’t help and takes pity on me so offers me a glass of Maalula wine – more like port mixed with vinegar – to help drown my sorrows. It does the job and I roll off on my merry way, only to be stopped on the descent out of town by a tyre blowout. Disaster! Good thing I picked up that pump in Damascus then.

Julian was fortunate enough to be graced with a new tyre that was kindly brought over by his parents in Damascus, and seeing as the one he was about to throw out had far more tread on it than my rear tyre, I decided to cash in on his waste and swap it over with mine. Little did I realize until my blowout that this tyre had a tasty hole in the wall, which caused the blowout. My own fault, I should have checked, but it doesn’t leave me in a good position just setting off solo and I’ve got a tyre on its last legs! I replace the tube with a hardier one that I picked up in Damascus and hope that it will survive to the monastery, at which point I will do my best to patch it over until I can get hold of a new tyre…

I cautiously roll on to Am Nabk, and struggle to find the right way to the monetary. I know its east and in the hills, but there are no sign posts, and contradicting opinions of the locals on which road to take. After picking up some supplies I luck upon a shop owner who knows Father Paulo who runs the monastery and he points me in the right direction. I make out of Am Nabk just before nightfall and camp out of sight among some rubble, only to be rumbled by a pack of dogs who stay irritating me all night, albeit from just outside rock throwing distance. The night is cold and wet, but I managed to get my stove fixed in Am Nabk so at least I’ve got a hot dinner!

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