The road wound up the mountain, the rain poured and torrents with many stones in tow gushed down from the mountainside in front of us at frequent intervals, almost making the way impassable. We drove on, slowly climbing, hoping we wouldn't meet large vehicles skidding downhill on the hairpin bends. When we reached our destination, a tiny hotel next to the castle, the rain was so torrential that we were unable to get out of our car for some time.
Eventually we made a dash for it and arrived in the hotel reception, drenched.
The hotel manager greeted us: "Welcome to Karak! In fact, you are our only guests this evening so I haven't switched on the heating but I'll put an electric fire in your room." This was not a good sign. Nor was the lack of hot water, nor the thin rags masquerading as towels, nor the pronouncement that there would be no breakfast served the following morning as a meeting was scheduled in the restaurant.
Our guide book had warned that when the wind gets up in Karak, you can hear the wailing of the prisoners hurled from the ramparts by Raynald de Chatillon in the twelfth century. How right it was! We have never heard such shrieking and moaning of gales. The windows of our room rattled as demons seemed to whoop and whirl all night, knocking on the panes as they went past.
We were up and dressed early, having barely slept, hoping to persuade the manager at least to give us a cup of tea. The reception was swathed in brittle light: three inches of snow lay outside and thick flakes were still falling. We got our tea, and dates. However, we couldn't look around the castle as the keeper of the key was snowed in in another village.
The thought of another night there, hoping the snow would subside, was not appealing so we headed off to the sun of the Red Sea. Karak castle will have to wait a few years.