Youth Hostel, Amman, Thursday May 10, 1973
Dear Father and Mother,

I'm on air again but haven't a great deal to report and don't feel very inspired. After another quick trip to the Iraq Museum, we left Baghdad about 1115 on Tuesday in a rather decrepit old bus for the 1000 Km journey to Amman. We crossed what I supposed was the Euphrates and headed out into the wilderness. Even when the desert was as smooth as a mill-pond, the road seemed full of lumps, though the surface was quite good.

The bus belonged to a Palestinian who spent a year in Sydney a couple of years ago. When one listens to his arguments and the emotional way he speaks of his country, it is easy to see how far off peace is in the Middle East. He has only contempt for the high-flown rhetoric of Sadat & Co. and says the Arab states aren't really interested in the plight of the Palestinians. I feel a great deal of sympathy with a lot of their grievances, though their methods (and the reprisals) are rather barbaric.

While travelling hour after hour across the desert, I arbitrarily decided I want to arrive in London on 2nd or 3rd June. If possible I'd like to arrange an interview with Sherwood for Wed May 30, otherwise I might look for a ship going straight from Beirut to Southampton or somewhere, leaving Europe to be enjoyed at a later date. It seems a pity to hurry through now, but I'm starting to feel like doing something "useful".

In the 23 hours I spent on and off the bus, I got very little sleep at all. Every time I dropped off, I was woken up again to show my passport - there were about 10 checks between Baghdad and Amman. These people seem to live in a constant state of uneasiness. At the border in the early hours, every article was gone over with a fine-toothed comb, every bag emptied etc. I was surprised they said nothing about my Gurkha knife. The reprehensible little official had the hide to say I spoke English like an American - crass ignorance I cannot stand! Should have spoken only French.

The Jordanian desert is mostly a stony, heart-breaking wilderness, with the army omnipresent. Amman is a drab city of flat-roofed houses built in a valley and up the sides of steep hills - really quite an odd setup. Yesterday Jack and I had a splurge (after changing a lot of money) and ate half a chicken each. We needed such a fillip to our spirits. Jack flies out this morning for Cairo and I shall probably take a taxi to Damascus - no regular buses since the 1967 war. So I'll be travelling alone for a while. I don't mind that as much as a lot of people would, though I think two like-minded persons is the right number for this sort of jaunt.

I really think it was hardly worth my while coming here - I could have gone straight to Damascus from Baghdad. All the places in "Jordan" I really want to see are occupied by Israel. Here I get stopped in the street and searched by officious soldiers (to whom I am always as rude as I dare to be) and had to spend hours yesterday finding the right place to report to the police and have my passport endorsed.