Recurrent hills the approach to Amman, misty chill descents, overheating on the twenty minute climbs. I’m wobbly struggling to unzip and remove a sleeve on a heavy pitch, a pickup truck coughs alongside, the elderly driver imploring me to stop. We trade kindnesses. “Joseph, are you Muslim?” “No.” “Why not?” “Perhaps someday, insha’allah,” I say diplomatically. “No, it must be now! to have no fear and to have hope in your heart. There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the prophet of God. Repeat it with me, will you?” Momentarily weightless between honesty and politeness, it’s unusual to encounter such brazen evangelism, with Christians I would be more incisive, here now I am sweating chest heaving and it is the timing that impresses. It should be clear to this well meaning person that I am in no way right at this instant seeking spiritual guidance, pedaling motion arcing into fatigue and elusive rhythm, it should be obvious but that the moment is so remote says something about how modern faiths get a substantial foothold precisely in their abstraction from local contextual conditions of geography or fauna, religious practice becomes something portable half in ideas rather than actions in a specific place or material framework. Still struck by this as we part on agreeable terms, gifted clementines in my pack.
Proximity to the city and the traffic is vectorless bedlam, a series of poor route finding choices and the advice of traffic police leads to a dark tunnel where every rider internal warning claxon goes off, gutter and wall to the right, speeding trucks left, roaring diesel fog, and I not so much will to calm but just blankly wait for it.
Emerge into clear streets downtown skyscrapers mosques Burger Kings boutique clothing peach sunset.