“I show you secret route”, Aquaba, Dec 1st, 2010

An unpleasant but often to be taken procedure during my trip will be saying good bye and moving on. Sometimes it will be rather easy and there is the hard once. Leaving Damascus, Syria and James behind certainly belong to the latter. Syria is such a welcoming and easy to travel country, still so different and eyes opening. With James it clicked so well. You always meet people, mostly its great to have them around, talk in a familiar language, feel safer but then you kind of have enough and want to move on. Only sometimes it connects in a way that it goes beyond the practical advantages of being two. You talk about things in more detail, share thoughts and don’t just top each others stories. That was the case with James.

Anyway, waiting for the bus 2 hours I called Angi and eat a Shwarma which I would regret later. The bus was not full and with Colby (US) and Massaka there were 2 other tourists as well going to Amman. Border crossing to Jordan was a piece of cake, most exciting the fact that the duty free shop had “Pick up”, my lovely Leibniz bar, and that the guy gave me a Mars and Twix on top to finish my remaining Syrien money.

About one hour before arrival I got quieter as my stomach got louder. I managed to say no to 2 hotels (price (2 Dollars a night) is not everything) before checking into the 4 Dollar bed of Cliff Hotel. Then my body lost its patience and I spent the next 3 hours between the bed and the toilet only interrupted by going downstairs to buy new supply of toilet paper. Boy I suffered. Around 9:30pm I fell asleep.

The next morning I felt at least so much better that I would want to go on. Amman did not give me any vibe of wanting to take a closer look. The 4 hour bus ride to Petra was interesting in two ways. I never eaten a Mars bar that slow. Just a tiny bit in line with some water and then 15 minutes later the next little bite. It worked as it stayed in. The other interesting part were the security checks every 45 minutes. Police stops in the middle of the dessert asking for each person ID. At the last one before Petra one man was not allowed to go on, whatever that means.

Petra is a tourist town, knowing and playing the game, charging a lot. The upside of this is, that the hotel has wireless and that the rooms are much nicer, giving me CNN and a sports channel. After relaxing for 2 hours I decided to go into the famous PETRA, one of the new 7 wonders of the world. Becoming that they also decided to raise prices to 70 Dollars a day and being very smart about it. For 75 Dollars you can get a 2 day ticket but that also means you spent at least one more night in one of its hotels. Fair enough. I suppose that the many elderly people they drop here by the busload don’t even notice as they have booked a package. Let me be clear: If I had come to Petra as the first stop of my trip or within a 2 week Jordan vacation, this place would have amazed me and I would love it. Petra is worth a visit and magical. Coming from Lebanon (Baalbeck) and Syria, were 90% of the Palmyra sight is free of charge for example, expectations are high and hard to meet when charging me a 2 day budget. (I plan 40 Dollars a day all in on this world trip) I got to hike a bit and met this amazing old lady (see video) before watching the sun go down on on the “treasury” one of the biggest sights within Petra. Great. The evening I spent online uploading pictures and eating two chicken soups.

Entering Petra you have to walk a stretch of about 2km before actually seeing the sight. Throughout that path you will hear “Do you want to ride a horse?” about 300 times. My problem is that I do want to ride a horse. I like it. So the next morning I went there and negotiated a ride for two hours and 25 Dollars, certainly too much but oh well. The guy was nice but always in a hurry, I did not see any sights from the horse trail but the ride itself was great and the landscape amazing. Its were they made parts of the Indiana Jones movie.

He dropped me at a great overlook were a group of tourists just made it up walking and got congratulated by their guide. He said: “You are so good I show you secret route that I only go with you.” I got interested and followed them a bit. After passing 2 restaurants, 2 souvenir shops and coffee bar I started to question the secrete part of the route. Smile.

Then I rushed back to the hotel and on a bus to Aquaba. Wadi Rum, the dessert Bedouin village, is a must on every Jordan trip. Hey, what is a must? I am free and deciding against it not only gave me an extra day for Israel but also felt so good. I have done a dessert camp with Angi in Dubai and it certainly could not get nicer here alone…….

Instead I followed a Dutch / UK couple from the bus to their chosen beach hotel outside of Aquaba and I did not regret that. Swimming in the red sea seeing Israel on the other side, then having a hot shower before eating lamb from the grill on the terrace next to the swimming pool while chatting with a friendly Dutch. Live could be worse.

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