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November - December 2008:
Middle East (Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt) (498 photos)
Today brought us from Israel to Jordan.
Just after breakfast we managed to make it to the border, where I was surprised by the ease of the security. However, any trip involving a crossing of borders with over fourty individuals cannot be over quickly, thus even with the laidback guards it still took awhile for everyone to cross.
In addition, one of the members of our group had arrived with an American passport and failed to mention this to our tour guides, oblivious to this fact when they dictated to security which of us were travelling on Canadian and which on Polish passports. They were taken to security check, which delayed our trip to Jordan even more.
In Jordan, we had to have a local tour guide, thus our Polish guide to date was not allowed to guide us any further. Additionally, each of our buses had to have a local security guard. Oh, and of course, a new driver and new bus (significantly worse than the one in which we had travelled through Israel).
When I asked about the necessity of the security guard, I was told that no one particularly knew.
As soon as the boarder was crossed, we could see significant differences between Jordan and Israel. On the one hand, Israel had the worst farmland in the region, however on the other they were able to create farms where there once had been deserts. On the Jordan side of the boarder, everything looked rather worse.
On the way to Amman (the capital of Jordan, where we spent the following two nights of our trip) we stopped in two attractive places: Gadara and Gerada.
In Jordan itself, there are more ruins than in all of Wloszech. Gerada had been the largest city of its’ time to ever be named a regional capital.
Afterwards came two earthquakes, which left the town in ruins so that no one lived there for over a thousand years. To compare it to a similar place,
The ruins stretch on for a rather long area. Every couple of steps, a local boy stands begging for money, or selling cheap souvenirs to tourists. During our visit, a man came up to us selling a handful of old coins. This type of souvenir was unique and rather hard to find, so I bought one. The man selling this to me was extremely afraid of getting caught; every moment I caught him looking about for a police officer, curiously apporoaching. Afterwards, he went to a rock and dug up yet another, this time a golden coin as an extra deal. Since I do not know coins at all, I didn’t want to risk anything and satisfied myself with the two I had previously bought from him.
In Gadarze, we stopped for dinner, and just after sunset (it gets dark there just after four o’clock) we arrived in Amman.
From the hotel I called Mohammed (our correspondent from Jordan) and we set up a meeting for the next day.
My computer here proved to be very helpful. In the evening, there was a long lineup of people interested in checking their e-mail, and in total it was used for this purpose for well over four hours.
Our trip was created with the lowest possible cost, something which had both its’ positive and negative aspects.
It was because of this, I believe, that we always landed in the worst of hotels.
In Amman, it turned out that our hotel actually contained a pool and gym – something unique among the others in which we had stayed.
I was for sure one of the people who made use of this pool. It was within the building, with a temperature so low that it discouraged all others from swimming within it. There, no one heated the water, even during the coldest of winters. I managed to swim several laps. The water itself had a rather unpleasant scent to it, and when I discovered the greenery growing on its’ walls I had to take another shower. The gym, similarly, was in a rather sorry state: several of the machines did not work at all, and those that did let out noises that discouraged any further use.
The hotel was opened fifteen years before, however since that time little or nothing has changed within its’ walls, similar to the hotel that we had stayed in before, in Israel. Where in Israel we had to wait twenty seconds for the yellow-tinted water to disappear, in Amman this time was extended to two minutes, the water released being of a dark brown colour at the beginning.
These are things that most probably would have bothered people, however just added to the exoticness of our adventure. It gives us a certain insight as to the luxuries we have back home compared with the everyday lives of the people living here.