Wrapping up Jordan
Last day in Jordan. Woke up in a Bedouin camp and I'm going to sleep in the loud, busy and crazed capital. Today was quite the journey. First there was the trip from Wadi Rum back to Petra. On the only public bus that leaves there. Once a day. Usually. (Getting a sense of my frustration with public transport in Jordan yet?) In Petra there was the delightful minibus back to Amman. This time I was one of the last ones on instead of the first, so I didn't have to wait that long for it to leave. (The drivers are super sticklers about not leaving until each and every seat is filled). This time I was the only Westerner and female. I never feel unsafe here, but I feel like people actually just stare at you like you're an oddity and don't feel uncomfortable about it. It was kind of like the time I was hanging out with a six foot guy with red hair in Beijing and everyone stopped him to take his photo. I guess I should be thankful no one tried to pat my head or touch my beard.
On the other hand, everyone on the bus was quite nice and moved so that I could have one of the single seats. I'm constantly impressed with the respect that women are treated with on the whole. Random ancillary note - I had an insightful conversation with myself on this bus ride. I was thinking about how it often feels like everyone else here is on some sort of organized tour and I often find myself in places with no other foreigners. I was feeling tired, worn out from never knowing my plans because everything is so up in the air here and I started wondering do I really love traveling or do I just like seeing foreign places? I think a lot of people can travel to a country and see its famous sights without ever speaking to a local, taking public transportation or ordering something off a menu that could very possible end up being brains.
I'd like to think I enjoy the local culture and learning more about the people, but sometimes I just get frustrated when things are done so differently than how I'm used to. I've had amazing moments while traveling alone of talking to locals and meeting really cool people from other countries, but sometimes I look longingly at the bus tours being herded around and think, wow it must be nice to have everything planned and know where you're sleeping tonight. O guess I've been outed as a fake world traveler.
Ancillary note over. Back to our mini bus. Apparently another wonderful local custom is to not open any windows because it's too loud. Apparently suffocating to death is preferable to a bit of wind noise. No there was no AC. I seriously thought I was going to pass out. I can't remember being that hot since lying in a train car going through the Gobi desert trying not to move an inch and generate any body heat. We arrived in Amman and of course it was time to negotiate with another cab driver. That is by far my most unfavoritest part of travel here. One taxi driver actually said to me - a few dinar is no big deal for you, to me it is. I think it's interesting that they perceive all Americans to be dripping with money.
I was wholly unconvinced this driver actually understood where we were going and there was insane traffic in the downtown area. It was probably about the scariest 45 minutes of my life. I lost count of near misses with other cars and buses. Then we spent the entire time discussing why I "no married." Not the first time I've been harassed about that by the way. Islamic men are worse than Jewish mothers!!! It seems every taxi driver is offering to take you on a tour or drive you somewhere else. You're always hearing "I have for you special price" or "I have for you tour." This guy was all "I have for you marriage" "I come back to the US to marry you. You are pretty" While certainly flattering I was like can you please focus on the road and not our impending nuptials??? Then he asked me if I was Muslim or Christian (well he didn't say Christian - he just started crossing himself). I figured that wasn't the time to introduce a third possibility to him, so I just said "I am nothing." This then led to a (mostly) Arabic lecture on the merits of Allah. and Him being one. He had me repeating something in Arabic (I hope I didn't convert by accident) and I was just too tired to argue.
Everyone talks about how insane Cairo is with the traffic and people and inability to cross the street. How there are no traffic lights - you just start walking and hold your hand out and cars just stop. Well that was going on big time in Amman this afternoon and I'm thinking I'm too weak to handle Cairo!! Everything just felt so loud, hot and intense. Total chaos. Heading to Egypt tomorrow morning. I hope Allah keeps an eye out on Jews....