It's been a long day- the second longest of my journey so far. I've lost track of distance and time. My GPS hasn't- 37km over 11 hours. A more accurate summary: a long way, over a long time.

I've climbed over 1000 metres and find myself on a windy plateau. The still dead silence of the lower reaches of the valleys now only exist in my memory. I put on two more layers and walk along a road. A road! There are cars and people again. The novelty is intoxicating.

There is much that is new, but there is also a lot that is now missing. For example: trees, shelter. Isolation. Easy camping spots. In fact, there's nothing like that here- a single track road through a flat landscapes with scattered houses on either side.

I could put up my tent anywhere and it wouldn't be a problem, but I would be disturbed by curious passers-by. My safety instinct also isn't happy with the notion of such blasé pitching.

Dusk has crept in while I wander and think. Time is short. I amble past a house, and a man in a checkered scarf and smart shoes nods a hello. By force of habit, I take this as an invitation to ask if I can camp in his garden. "Where in my garden?" he asks. I point at a flat patch.

He inspects it, then says simply, "no." He walks back towards his house and I follow to apologise for asking. Before I can speak, he parts the curtains of an outhouse to reveal a living-room set up inside. "This is where my friends and I hang out. You should sleep here instead."

My new friend is called Mahmoud, and his sons are summoned to meet me. They shake my hand and practice their best 'Hello.' The youngest skips off and returns with a jug, which he holds to his chest and looks patiently up at me.

"You are tired," observes Mahmoud. "Please hold out your hands for washing. After that, take off your shoes and my son will wash your feet. You've had a long day."

I cannot remember the last time someone offered to wash my feet. Almost certainly never. The gesture is so grandly Biblical that it's overwhelming to me, but to Mahmoud and his sons: it's just what you do. Someone has arrived who is tired, so you help them. You do what you can to make them comfortable. It is part of their Islamic faith, and it is part of the Arab culture. It is also an example of their personal humanity, which shines through profoundly.

To walk is to be constantly humbled; by landscapes, by emotions, by people. By gestures and kindnesses. Today is no different.


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