where i've been...

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Getting to Jordan...

is harder than one would think! So, our journey began on a sunny Wednesday. We got up, ate (of course) went for a quick walk around town and then back to the house to (eat, of course) and grab our things and head to the bus station. Long story a little bit shorter (okay, so I'm not really good at holding to that, but it's fun to say) our Lonely Planet book had said there was a direct bus from Alexandria to Aqaba, Jordan. The truth of the situation, is that there is not. Instead, there is a multiple-modes-of-transportation journey, that ended up taking us just over 32 hours. It consisted of a bus to Cairo, a two hour wait, another bus to Nuweiba, Egypt, an 11 hour wait, and then a ferry to Jordan, followed by a two hour cab ride to the city of Wadi Musa, just outside of Petra. Woah.

The good news is that I had time (lots of it and the vast majority in a freezing cold, air conditioned bus driving through the desert at high speeds in the dark, windy roads, with no headlights and a broken speedometer) to contemplate the things that I truly miss about the US. Here are a few:

1-lines. Not only the existence of lines, but the respect for them. See a line, go to the end of it. Wait your turn. Does that really seem so hard?
2-to go coffee. I want to take my coffee with me. I want to walk around with it. I want to multi-task.
3-customer service. Just tell me the truth. Give me correct information. Say sorry when you mess things up. Take responsibility. Or at least pretend to.
4-the ability to book things online in advance. Oh, how much we this for granted.
5-schedules and timetables that are somewhat reliable and accurate. If the ferry leaves at 6, tell me 6. Not 2!

The ferry trip was a real treat. First of all, the trip over (about an hour and a half) is a RIDICULOUS $70, US. On top of that, you must pay in USD, but the ATMs don't give out USD. We are pretty sure now that whoever owns the ferry is related to the one bank in the neighboring town that exchanges Egyptian Pounds for USD. Luckily for us, Jenny had enough USD to cover us all. So there are two ferry options, the fast ferry (1.5 hrs) and the slow ferry (2.5 hrs). Well, considering we arrived at 5:30am and had nothing to do but sit outside and drink tea, we were more concerned with getting on a ferry than the amount of time it took to get to Jordan. They told us the slow ferry left at 4pm (and was $10 cheaper) but the fast ferry left at 2pm. So we splurged on the fast ferry. Come to find out, the slow ferry actually left at 12 and the fast ferry finally left at about 6:00pm. Urgh. I would have gladly paid the extra $10 just for the correct information! We met a good group of people waiting for the ferry though, and we all made it over in the end.
The classic picture taken as you walk in and first see the Treasury.

Some of the amazing colors of sandstone.

The following day I pulled myself out of bed early (6:15!), ate breakfast and headed out to Petra with two guys who we had met the day before. Rahima and Jenny were so exhausted that they decided to meet up later in Petra. We got there about 7:45am, and spent all day there...literally. We must have been the last tourists out of the place about 6:30pm, walking out in the dark. I will definitely not do justice to Petra here in this blog. It was one of my top two things I wanted to see on this trip, and it surpassed every (and I mean absolutely EVERY) expectation that I had. I don't think I have ever spent so much time somewhere and just marveled at what was around me. The buildings are carved into the sandstone walls and everything is just massive. The buildings are beautiful and you really feel how it was a true city, not just a little town with one or two spectacular facades carved into the walls. It is sprawling across quite a bit of space and you sometimes just go around a turn and can't believe what you are seeing right in front of you. One of my favorite parts was the Monastery, which is 48m tall and 43m wide. One of the guys we were with, Tim, disappeared for a bit and suddenly called out to us, from the TOP of it! Well, I was certainly envious and so when he said it was quite an easy climb, Ed and I started up ourselves. Jenny and Rahima stayed down to get the good pics of us. It was incredible. I sat on top of one of the 7 wonders of the world. Sigh. :) Does it get much better than that?

The Monastery. If you look closely just to the left of the spire you will see Tim, standing on top, in a dark grey sweatshirt. Wow!

Me and Ed on top of the Monastery. Can you believe it? It was absolutely spectacular. :)

Oh yeah, and on the way to Amman today we stopped at the Dead Sea and floated for a bit. It was really funny. The guide book even warns that if you are coming here to commit suicide, rethink it, because you won't be successful. You literally cannot make yourself sink on your own. Looks like we are lying on the bottom in these pictures but we couldn't touch the bottom. The gnome got to swim too. It was a good day for us all. :)


Leslie and Dave said...

I'm back! We FINALLY got a new computer this past weekend. Now I can stay up to date on your adventures! The scuba looked amazing. I can't believe it has been over a month since you were here. Sending love from Paris.

Weezy said...

I will remember what I take for granted next time I am booking a flight schedule in line while sipping a latte as I overhear the person at the front be told "Sorry." Yes, traveling has a way of getting the "American" out in us. Glad you FINALLY made it to Jordan, Jeez!
- Luis