Monday, March 7, 2011

Mission Report - Jordan

Jordan Mission outcome – outstanding success!

Following the safe return to Agency HQ in Paris, the Jordan mission achieved its objectives of collating and disseminating critical knowledge and data with key international operatives, whilst also undertaking reconnaissance in strategic locations including Mount Nebo, Madaba, Petra and the deserts surrounding Wadi Rum.

A number of long, yet interesting meetings and seminars were conducted at the beginning of the week. It quickly became apparent that I would have to rely on, and become the sole provider of, strategic Information Technology advice. Thankfully the most plentiful buffet breakfast ever witnessed ensured that I had sufficient energy to withstand the gruelling IT requirements, including the demands of an equally impressive gym where I was able to make certain my secret agent skills were kept sharpened.

Operative at bag drop
Fellow international operatives provided useful information, whilst also being highly critical of a dossier I had prepared and presented for the Agency. However, all of which will provide invaluable material for future mission campaigns.

After a number of clandestine night encounters with similar agencies involving numerous courses of delicious Middle Eastern food, and apparently local beer Amstel (?) and regional wine, all of which was consumed in traditional fair so as not breach my undercover status, the mission headed 3 hours south to Mount Nebo and Madaba before reaching Petra.

Secret 6th century Byzantine map
An inspection of the Mount Nebo, the site where Moses is allegedly buried, proved to be interesting in furthering my Byzantine historical knowledge, as did Madaba where I spied a 6th century map of the Holy Land made entirely of mosaics and inlayed in the floor of a Greek Orthodox Church.

Arrival in Petra required an immediate Turkish hammam. Through the hottest and steamiest hamman ever endured I was able to gain credible insight into the evening’s trek to the Treasury of the ancient city of Petra under the cover of darkness with only candlelight to guide the way.

Petra by night, the stirring and longing sounds of the traditional single string Arabic guitar (similar to a sitar) and the echoing sounds of the flute, sipping hot sweet tea perched cross legged on a mat in the sand I came to learn more about Arabic music.

First glimpse of the Treasury at the end of the Siq

Upon meeting and being guided by a former Archaeologist of the site, I returned the following morning to further explore in greater detail the UNESCO World Heritage Listed site. The work, lives and expansive city (only 1% of which has been uncovered) of the ancient Nabataean people was truly fascinating. Nothing quite prepares you for seeing the ancient city’s most famous building, the Treasury, following a 1.2km walk down the narrow Siq. Needless to say a significant amount of surveillance footage were taken thus ensuring that the strategic importance of the site was sufficiently captured.

The Treasury - Petra

Back of the jeep en route to camp - Wadi Rum

Another 2 hour journey further south and I arrived at the 4x4 jeep which was stationed to rendezvous with me. I threw myself and my bags into the back of jeep tray and crossed the desert at Wadi Rum to reach my secret training camp. The harsh terrain meant that the run up the deep ochre coloured sand dunes tested my endurance.

Agent training camp - Wadi Rum

Back at camp, sitting on cushions in the sand under a hessian tent roof, warmed by the fire where the sweet tea was brewing, I reflected on how far my journey had taken me and to some of the most amazing corners of the earth. Although next time I pondered, my trusty standard Agent issue Swiss army knife will have to be remembered so as to open the bottle of Jordan River Shiraz I had managed to obtain through a bag drop and was dug into the sand beside me. Never fear, where there is a will there is a way, and with a little might, pop went the cork to accompany my meal which had been slow roasting in a charcoal pit for 2 hours covered by sand. The complete silence of the desert and the most brilliant blanket of stars will ensure that the experience won’t be quickly forgotten.

Covered in red dust and smelling remarkably like a barbeque, I jumped back into the jeep the following morning to head back north to journey back to Amman. Back in the capital, multiple strong espresso coffees were consumed followed by yet another operative meeting, this time under the guise of a ‘day spa’ where a Dead Sea mineral body scrub was employed, after which a mud wrap was applied to be finished by massage. All in preparation for another day of Secret Agent work back at HQ in Paris.

Next mission – Nigeria in May!

Palace Tomb - Petra


  1. You're getting an Aston Martin, aren't you?

  2. But of course! I think the Vantage might suit me best.

  3. Oops my mission has been leaked!

  4. Wonderfully descriptive. Sounds incredible