Jordan – Day 1: Driving to Aqaba

We all arrived in Amman without any problems. Sam and I slept most of the time, but Holly happened to sit next to next to someone who was clearly famous as people kept stopping by to greet him. Eventually, he revealed himself to be Prince Mired bin Ra’ad. A royal prince of Jordan! She said he was super nice and they chatted on and off throughout the flight

I am very impressed with the tourism infrastructure of Jordan. I bought the Jordan Pass before I left the United States.  For $100, you get a visa and access to every historical site, including Petra.   You buy it online and flash the QR code at the ticket office.

We rented an automatic, 12 passenger van for 7 people.   I went to the car rental desk and was told they only had a manual van. I demanded they find the automatic van that I reserved.   I do not know how to drive a manual.   About an hour after I first engaged the Enterprise rental car staff, a beat-up old white van pulled up.   It was covered in dents, the carpets were stained, there was a divot in the driver’s side floor, and the passenger side vanity mirror was shattered.   We nicknamed her جمل (jamal), which is Arabic for camel, and started the 4.5-hour drive south on the Desert highway.

After a few hours, we stopped at a roadside chicken shawarma restaurant from a place called Reem Al-Janoub.  I think it was outside the city of Ma’an.   In what would be foreshadowing for the rest of the trip we ordered too much food. We had sandwiches, fries, and half of a melon. I thought the sandwich was very good.  I later learned that the Jordanians will put food on western style bread rolls that are extremely mediocre. When ordering in Jordan always ask for your sandwich to be made on shrak bread, if they do not have shrak ask for the standard pita.

 

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Photo Credit: E. Spencer McGee

One of the more interesting things to happen at this restaurant was a conversation Sam had with one of the local guys hanging out.  He was in jeans and a button-down shirt.  He apologized that he was not wearing a thobe (traditional Bedouin clothing), he was dressed like this because he was in Amman on business earlier that day.  The fact that he apologized for not being himself was fascinating. The south of Jordan is the first non-western Arab place I’ve visited. He then told Samer a story about how people will slaughter a jackal, and eat one part of it, for virility.  Men will eat anything for an erection.

We stayed at the Kempinski Hotel that night in Aqaba.   We planned to stay at the Al Manara, but they moved us to this hotel.    Our snorkeling guide called us to confirm and when we told them we were staying at Al Manara, they were like “uh, we heard all of those guests were moved.”   That info was true and with one call we were rebooked in the Kempinski Hotel.

Next – Jordan – Day 2: Snorkeling in the Red Sea

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