Why Allah is great
I was very happy that I had chosen to have a driver meet me at the border. I had no idea how one gets to Amman from the border crossing and we were able to stop in the city of Jerash on the way so it saved a lot of time. His English was excellent and I think he felt it was his duty to educate me on all things Muslim, Jordanian and political. After waxing on about several old testament stories which had taken place in Jordan and explaining to me who Jacob and his 12 sons were, I debated telling him that I was Jewish and had studied all of this for a number of years. However, given his repeated referencing of: "the occupation", his being from Palestine, the evil treatment of Israel against the Palestinans and how this would eventually come back to destroy their childrens' lives, and his concern that the peace agreements between Jordan and Israel did nothing for the Jordanian citizens, I decided keeping quiet might be best.
I did learn a bit about Jordan and he gave me some excellent tips for my further travel. Oh and did I mention the air conditioning? I don't think he was trying to proselytize me (unlike the man in the shared taxi from the airport in Israel who kept asking why I didn't just move to Israel as this was the only place Jews could be happy) But we did spend some solid time discussing Islam. I was informed that he did not eat pork, drink alcohol or kiss his wife on Ramadan because that makes Allah very angry. And then he sends you to hell. And that's bad. (I summarized for you but it was a tad more verbose)
We made our way to the town of Jerash - it has wonderfully preserved Roman ruins and the tour guide was excellent. It really is interesting to see the juxtaposition of ancient theatres, columns and temples right next to a thriving, modern city. Even though I had left on the first bus out of Israel, the earliest we could arrive at Jerash was 12 pm. It was not cold. It was not cool. It was HOT. As it turns out, ruins do not have air conditioning. So while I wouldn't recommend them as a mid day touring highlight, they were pretty cool. I was also dressed quite modestly (ie way too much of my body was covered up) because I had heard about what a conservative country Jordan is and I didn't want to offend. righht....I don't think that applies to tourists. There were many tourists in Jerash far more naked than I. I think I saw some short shorts that would have been provocative even in America.
But I digress - next stop - Amman hotel. I write hotel because it is called the Palace Hotel. But I wonder if having no running water in the sink and only cold water in the shower causes you to lose the designation, "hotel." I feel like it should. This was Lonely Planet's number one budget hotel recommendation. I really hate to see what the places they give a thumbs down look like. The room literally was falling apart, the shower head was above the toilet seat and sink and my key was literally from the 1800's. I think it may have opened a dungeon in a castle a long long time ago. I dropped my stuff off and headed out for a brief exploration of downtown Amman. I keep reading about how crossing the street in Cairo is going to be quite the experience. Amman was no party either. I don't think I saw any traffic lights or maybe it's just cuz no one was using them. I would find a local and just run next to them. Also - it was interesting that I was in my same modest dress (I know, time to shower) and I still felt totally leered at and given some odd looks. Which was especially weird given that there were some Jordanian women walking the street who were let's just say - not wearing traditional garb. I've never felt uncomfortable traveling alone, but I definitely felt very out of place and not so much into walking the streets. Given my early wake up I didn't have too many waking hours left so I headed back to the "hotel" for some onward trip planning.
I spoke with some other travelers in the lounge and they convinced me that I had to spend the night sleeping in the desert in Wadi Rum (southernJordan). This was not exactly on my itinerary given that it involved A) elongated periods in the desert B) sleeping in a tent C) the need to find transportation to Wadi Rum since it's not exactly frequented by public transportation. They also convinced me that I had to go to Aswan, Egypt in order to take the 4am trip out to see temples in Abu Simel. I had been toying with this, but of course being the travel whore I am, I was easily sold. I decided to head down to Petra first thing next morning and hopefully figure out transportation from there. I also decided to book airline tickets to Egypt since I was not up for a gazillion ferry and bus crossings and because I needed to save time (and sanity). All that was left was buying online from Egypt Air. WAY more easily said than done. Their online purchasing services give JAT and Aerolineas Argentinas airlines a serious run for their money, but at least I was in America when I was fighting with them. I needed to get it done because I was flying in a few days and leaving wicked early in the morning for Petra where I didn't think there would be travel agencies. Thank goodness for travel forums and someone's suggestion to buy the tickets on orbitz.com. In theory I now possess tickets from Amman to Aswan and Luxor to Cairo, but given everything I've read online about the fabulousness of Egypt Air, I will be skeptical until I am actually on a plane. After of course paying my exit tax for the privilege of leaving Jordan.