here, there, everywhere

Back From Jordan

In Jordan, Middle East, Syria on October 8, 2002 at 6:38 pm

Just returned to Damascus after visiting Jordan for the past week.  I don’t know if it’s because Jordan is more well known than the other countries I’m visiting, but it didn’t have the same allure as Syria or Lebanon.  Nevertheless, it was pretty cool to see.  The highlights were the sunsets in the desert which I don’t think can be beat.  We camped out in Wadi Rum one night and in the morning the Muslim call to prayer was echoing off the mountains so it came back to us in harmony.  Pretty amazing and one of the nicest ways to wake up.  We went floating in the Dead Sea the day after we got there.  Yes, it’s true, any cut you have is amplified a billion times and lucky me, after floating for about an hour watching the sun rise, I stepped on a rock and gashed my foot.  Better than 12 coffees and an electric charge to wake one up let me tell you.

The night we camped at the dead sea, we were followed by the military down from Mount Nebo til they were sure we weren’t going to camp on the mountain.  Then just as we were cooking dinner, another military jeep came by.  Fortunately Captain Omar took pitty on us and let us stay.  He ended up staying for dinner and I managed to get one picture with him, but was too shy to ask if I could hold the AK-47 for the photo.  He gave us permission to stay the night and I guess he told the rest of his soldiers which is probably why they came to our camp in the middle of the night to watch us all sleep.  A little weird, a little creepy, but I suppose patrolling the already militarized section of the Dead Sea can be boring and watching people sleep is better than ???

Then we headed to Petra for a few days (read a longer version of the story here).  A bunch of us went there at 6 am to beat the tourists which we successfully managed to do.  We were the only ones there for about 3 hours apart from a French couple that disappeared up the mountain for awhile.  It was really amazing to walk down the Siq and then see the treasury around the corner.  The whole time I was there I kept pinching myself saying “I can’t believe Indiana Jones has been here!!!!”

Managed to get a pretty bad heatstroke that day and was apparently delirious upon arrival back to the hotel.  Kept looking for the pants I was already wearing.  The next day we were at the Wadi Rum.  I couldn’t go in on the jeep ride as my stomach would have heaved so a nice Bedouin fellow from the village took pity on me and took me for a walk around one of the valleys and Nabatean tombs.  Day after that we all headed to Aqaba for some snorkelling where my left leg was promptly introduced to fire coral, after which I had a hard time getting in the boat, fell off and gashed my left arm on the ladder after pinching my finger in the rope.  Don’t worry about imminent war, I will surely die before that from self- inflicted wounds.

Today we hustled back up to Syria and tomorrow we’re off to Lebanon.  The good news here is that I successfully obtained my Iranian visa last week!!!  Apparently all it takes is a smile and some batting of the eyelashes to be successful, not to mention a lot of cash.

A word on the people here thus far… everyone is very friendly and so happy that we are here visiting.  Everywhere you go you are invited for tea and conversation.  The other night Adam had to take care of some trip business so I went out onto the street, about 11pm, to just wait on the sidewalk.  Within 1 minute I had been invited to sit with three Libyans, 2 Iraqis, and all the shop owners on the corner brought me free tea.  The first thing anyone says to you here is ‘welcome’ and they all want desperately for you to say you love their country, which I do, so it’s not a stretch to extend the niceties.

Anyways, I’ve been told my e-mails are long so I’ll stop here after one final note…

When you are traveling in countries that are very different from home and things do not always look familiar, and other things are challenges, you start to re-evaluate the things in your life that are important or need prioritizing.  Toilet paper is one of these things and I must say that my wish is that I always have some around until the day I die.

That is all, next week a report on Lebanon.
I LOVE THE MIDDLE EAST!!!!!

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