API Call ErrorTaxis: we weren’t keen on trying the taxis in Egypt, as we were still intimated, not wanting to get taken for a ride (no pun intended!), and Cairo cabs in particular have a bad reputation for milking as much money out of tourists as they can. As it turned out since we booked a tour for Egypt, there wasn’t any need for them. Our first foray into Jordan proved quite manageable. We probably paid more than necessary for the ride from the ferry into Aqaba, but the driver was kind and friendly, and we didn’t feel ripped off, and that’s what really matters. We took a taxi to Wadi Rum (arranged by our tour guides there) without any trouble, and again from Petra to Dana. By the time we got to Amman, we didn’t think anything of flagging down a taxi to take us across town, especially as they are quite supposed to use their meters. A trip clear across town ended up costing us less than $4 (and this in a country whose costs are generally only slightly less than back home).
Well, today was definitely an interesting day. It didn’t start out great, as we woke up to find our leftover chicken was missing from the fridge, so our breakfast was lacking in protein. But we made our way first to the JETT bus office to arrange our tickets to Damascus for tomorrow, and then to Abdali bus station to catch a local bus to Jerash. It was shaping up looking like it would be an exercise in frustration, comparable to getting to Amman, because the first bus we were directed to was a full sized bus. We would have been the second and third people on this bus, and they don’t leave until they’re full. Getting to Amman, we were the 7th and 8th people on, and still waited almost 2 hours to depart. But we asked around some more, and a very nice gentleman pointed us to an actual minibus that was almost full and departed within 10 minutes.
Something generally lacking in the Middle East has been grocery stores. Fresh produce is readily available, and there are many “supermarkets” that sell chips, chocolate bars, water, pop and maybe two or three other products. But there’s still been a bit lacking.
So conveniently, in Amman there is actually a Safeway. Our visit there was a generally uneventful occasion, in which we stocked up on things like cereal bars, cookies, and other non-chip snack supplies. But the real surprise was the candy store, where they were selling chocolate coins. Canadian chocolate coins, just like we’d get at home. We actually didn’t get any because they were expensive, but it was kind of odd nonetheless. Continue reading
We’ve just arrived in Amman, after spending 3 days on the Dana Nature Reserve. Despite how much I try to hide it, I’m just not a city girl at heart. It was so wonderful just to sit around and enjoy the relative quiet, the shouts of a few people, the braying of donkeys, the crowing of a rooster or two, and the many many songbirds. And for the first time, I learned that bats do actually make an audible noise – I always thought their sounds were too high-pitched for us to hear, but when I enquired about the weird nighttime squeakings (get your mind out of there!) – there were crickets, but also some high-pitched squeaks that we were told were the bats. Neat.
We’ve spent our third day in Petra now, and it was definitely the hardest. We’d wanted to visit the second most famous facade in Petra, API Call Errorthe Monastery, and we’d planned on taking horses one way, as we’d heard you could do that.
Unfortunately, we had no such luck, apparently the horses are unable to climb all the way to the Monastery. You can take donkeys, but you have to walk about 3 or 4 km from the entrance gate to the centre of the site to get a donkey. The first one we asked started at an unreasonable price, and by the time he’d come down to the realm of reality, we were so frustrated with his tactics that we weren’t going to buy from him anyway.
So we walked the whole distance. Probably only about 6 km or so from the entrance gate to the monastery, but it involves dropping right to the bottom of the valley, and then climbing a mountain out. Then turn around and go the other way. So we got a lot of practice on the stairs today. It was worth it though. The monastery, like the Treasury at the other end of the city, is an unforgettable sight.
We leave for Dana tomorrow. We’re not sure where next internet will be available, so it may be a while before you hear from us again. Don’t worry though, we’re fine.
We have been in Wadi Musa (the town beside Petra) for 3 days, and have been to Petra for 2 days, going back again tomorrow. We haven’t really taken much rest in the past week, and are getting a little tuckered. Nights haven’t been fully restful either, as our room is not at all insulated, and we can hear every shout, car horn and prayer call quite clearly – the first call to prayer of the day seems to happen sometime around 4am, though we really can’t figure how many people are actually up at that time, unless they just haven’t gone to bed yet, since it seems to be a very evening and night-oriented society. (which has made finding breakfast on occasion quite a task – many places in less touristy areas don’t open until 9 or 10 am)
Or perhaps that should be lack-of-saddle sore. API Call ErrorKathy and I spent the weekend (well, the western weekend) API Call Errorriding camels in the Wadi Rum desert not far from Aqaba. We encountered some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve seen in a while, met some API Call Errorinteresting people, and had a generally good time.
We also had some mighty weird weather. Both days we were in the desert, we experienced a tiny smatter of rain. On the second day in particular, it looked like we might be in for a real rainstorm, but that never materialised.
Aqaba doesn’t have the historical draw of much of the region. History happenned here, but it’s left relatively little trace. However, there is excellent diving, in the limited available coastline between the port and the Saudi border.
So we went scuba diving today. It was something we’d intended to do in Dahab, but kind of missed out on. I haven’t gone in a long time (probably close to 8 years, shortly after I learned to dive), and Kathy had never gone before, so we just did a shallow dive from the shore. There was still some amazing coral to be seen, and lots of colourful fishes. My only other diving experience has been in the Jasper lakes (where there is almost no life), and among the Gulf Islands off of Vancouver, where there is tons of life, but it’s all ugly and dull colours. So the tropical view was a pleasant change. Kathy saw a couple of octopi that I missed, but there were fish everywhere, as we saw a few eels as well. There was also a fair bit of coral around.
We’re off to Wadi Rum tomorrow morning, 10 am, so we’ll be out of touch for a few days, until we get to Petra.
We have arrived safely in Aqaba, Jordan, and so far we have noticed quite a difference from Egypt. The cab driver that brought us to our hotel took us straight there, without trying to sell us on a different hotel, and he was quite adamant that Jordan is different than Egypt. He appeared to be quite proud of his country, something that we noted was lacking in Egypt.
Immigration was remarkably easy, hassle free, and the agents were quite friendly. So far our experience has been, “Canadian? Ok, you go.” A smile and a wave, and barely a glance at our documents or bags. They had us unlock and open our bags at the port, to ask about my shampoo and then send us on our way. (A mere formality, I suspect)
Internet is more expensive here, so we will try to limit it a bit, at least until we can find something a bit cheaper.
We are in Aqaba for 3 nights (including last night), as we plan our route through Jordan. We’ll post the plans once we have something figured out. Today we are heading to Aqaba Castle and the tourist office, to get some information (hopefully it’s better than Egypt, where the tourist offices simply pointed you in the direction of their favoured travel agency, or so we were told – we didn’t actually investigate for ourselves).
Stay tuned for more from Jordan!