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Archive for ‘November, 2022’

Egypt & Beyond Day 17, Quarantine

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Had a doctor come to our room this morning. Elee is feeling horrible and I’m not too well either. Elee is tested and sure enough, she has Covid. Because the test costs just shy of $200 US Dollars, I decide to not take the test. Elee has it and it’s likely I do too. The doctor gives us both a shot in the butt. After an hour I feel much better. Not so good for Elee. So we are quarantined in Amman, Jordan for 5 days. India is off the tour. Now we have to cancel flights and tours and find a flight home. The Embassy here is not open until tomorrow.

The next day I am much sicker. Seems I am just a day behind Elee on this. Room Service delivers meals to us and is very reasonable. For example, Breakfast is served for free downstairs in the dining room and they deliver that to us for free! Lunches and Dinner consist of sandwiches that we split and bowls of soup for the most part.

In Arabic countries, the work week is different than ours. They work Sunday through Thursday and have Fridays and Saturdays off. Saturday is their Holy Day. We extend our stay in the hotel an extra day with the promise of extending it a few more days. This is at least a good hotel to be stuck in, with a sitting room and a bedroom, so we have a place to eat besides on the bed! Researching flights home occupy much of our time. I do find time to get this Blog updated in preparation to start posting it.

We are consigned to watching the one and only English speaking channel on TV that shows movies all day. At least they don’t repeat many movies, there is usually a new one to watch. We do change occasionally to CNN for the fake world news, but mostly it’s movies and Room Service. We have a window that opens so we get fresh air every day. Cities in Jordan have a public “Call To Prayer” broadcast on loudspeakers 4 times each day. It is unintelligible to our ears but very interesting to listen to, almost mesmerizing!

So our days go, the same for the most part. A lot of time is spent in bed while we recover. We actually quarantine for 6 days because that is the most convenient way to get our flights home booked. 6 days later we are finished with quarantine and the hotel gets us a taxi to take to the airport. Here is a fun sign on our way to the airport!

We have a 2:45AM flight booked to Doha, Qatar (pronounced Cutter). Qatar airport is fun to walk through if you don’t count the 3 separate security stations which x-ray our backpacks at every step of the way! We are sure the heavy security revolves around the FIFA World Cup Games being hosted here in a few days! Then a 7AM flight booked direct to LAX. A 3 hour flight, 2 hour layover in Qatar and a 16 hour flight home. We land in LAX about 2:30PM on a Friday and it takes us until 6:30PM to get home, normally a one hour trip but with getting our luggage and a cab ride home in Friday Rush Hour traffic, it takes a while.

Finally home, we crash and start sleeping off the jetlag. It takes me 3-4 days to feel normal again. As for Elee, she now contracts the Flu which compounds her comfort for over another week!

Egypt & Beyond Day 16, Our Lowest Point

Friday, October 28, 2022

This morning we get up and pack up and bring our bags to breakfast with us. While I’m checking out, Elee comes and informs me that our clocks are an hour off and it is time to get on the bus! Crikees! We hustle our bags out the door and get down to the bus. Crazily I manage to get a front seat so I can take photos out of the windshield!

So how many axles is the heaviest truck you have seen? Here in Jordan, 8, 9 and even 10 axle trucks carry goods throughout the country!

Jordan gasoline stations have a fun sign, especially for Americans!

We have a 4 hour drive this morning to the Dead Sea. It is time for this adventure that we have been waiting for. The bus stops for photos at the Sea Level sign. The Dead Sea is 436 Meters (1440 feet) below sea level, the lowest point on earth!

We arrive and lucky for us we have carried our swim trunks separately with us. We are at a large hotel that hosts swims in the Dead Sea. It is quite a downhill walk still to the Sea and we trudge down the boardwalk that leads there. I stop at a set of rest rooms and shower stalls to change into my suit.

My timing is perfect and I meet up with Elee on the Boardwalk and we get to the beach. We find a set of beach chairs to put our stuff on and make our way to the water’s edge. People are smearing themselves with black mud which is said to have healing qualities. Sure. Whatever. I opt not to as it seems disgusting.

We gingerly work our way into the water. It feels weird. Slimy almost. We get deep enough to float and lift our feet off the bottom. Our bodies immediately pop up on top of the water and two-thirds are above water. Weird. Surreal. You can’t sink. I try to but no way, my body stays well out of the water. I go to deeper water and stay vertical. No need to tread water, I stay vertical and my chest and head are out of water. I have to work to keep my feet down. It is easier to just float on my back. My skin feels weird and slimy but very smooth. Several of the ladies play and cavort in the water, lifting their legs effortlessly in the air with no difficulties!

Elee gets the nerve to get some black mud and wipe it on her body. I take some and put it on my arms. No healing happening here, just hard to wash off. After a half hour in the water I call it quits and work my way out. I had brought my camera with me for some fun photos but then had put it back on the beach to play in the water. I retrieve the camera and we work our way back up the beach to the hotel, stopping at the showers to rinse off. The slimy feeling remains and I can’t wait to get to the hotel for a proper shower. I leave my swim trunks behind (I have more) as they are a salty mess.

Lunch is provided for us at the hotel and it is a delicious buffet of Jordanian food. We are not staying in this hotel so we board the bus again and head into downtown Amman. Bilar takes us to the Amman Citadel, another ruin where our cameras are in their happy place again!

Moving on, we make it to our hotel for the night. This tour is over and Bilar parts company with us. Many of our tour friends will leave to go home and other destinations also and we might see them at breakfast but maybe not. Amman is known as the “White City” for most building materials here are white marble and other white stone! Overlooking the city from the Citadel is interesting because of the “White” appearance of everything! Children fly frilly kites for fun!

So it’s to bed for us and we’ll see you all in the morning!

Egypt & Beyond Day 15, Petra

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Today is magical. Last night was spectacular. Breakfast is good. On the bus for the 5 minute drive to the entrance to Petra. We are exhausted from last night’s hike. Did I paint the picture well enough?

Bilar tells us today’s hike is easy. He says we can do it. Then he shows us the map of all the hiking trails and shows us where we will go. Whoa! Wait a minute! Why does the map say ‘hard’? It shows the Main Trail as ‘easy’ and everything else as ‘moderate’ or ‘hard’! Something is fishy here!

Bilar tells us we have until 4PM. It is 8AM. Going be a long day. I tell Bilar we will be at the bus at 4PM but don’t look for us on the tour. We walk off to the side and I see it. Salvation from the hike! Golf carts, that, for a price, will drive us to the Treasury round trip. $25 JD (Jordanian Dinar), approximately $37 USD. A bargain, our legs tell us! So $74 dollars poorer (there are 2 of us), we ride down into Petra, passing our group on the way and laughing amicably at them. Our driver is funny and sure knows how to earn a tip! He shouts at the crowds walking in, “No Brakes, No Control! Crazy Driver! Crazy, not Lazy!” The crowds around us roar with laughter! We arrive at the Treasury and get off the cart without feeling the exhaustion in our already tired legs.

The Treasury is spectacular by day in a different way than at night! Carved into the cliffs, the Treasury stands over 50 meters high! Absolutely amazing feat of engineering, no wonder this is one of the Seven Wonders of the World! Our cameras start working hard for us. They are quite happy! We proceed further along the Main Trail into Petra, letting our cameras lead the way like they so love to do!

We walk along the Street of Facades, buildings as large as the Treasury but not as spectacular (but fantastic in themselves) and we come across the Theatre, an amphitheater with 45 rows of seating carved into the rock. A lot of destruction here, some caused by an earthquake in the 4th century and some caused by different foreign occupations. Every step of the way vendors vie for your business, whether it be a trinket or a camel or donkey ride. Just like in Egypt, if you even make eye contact with them they will hound you for an endless period of time! It’s such a shame that it is difficult to window shop at your leisure but that is the culture here.

The roads here are fantastic, mostly built by the Romans who were amazing road builders. Walking down stone roads that are thousands of years old and still intact, perfectly crowned in the middle! Our road engineers could take a lesson from the Romans, for sure!

We walk on through the “Nymphaeum”. I’m sure it’s not directly translatable to what looks like the root word here, but who knows if they had a ‘Red Light District’? Elaborate apartment like caves built into the walls of the cliffs!

Walking on, we come across the “Colonnaded Street” and the “Great Temple”, mostly in ruins, but a sight for our poor camera lenses! We come to the end of the Main Road at “Qasr al-Bint, but without our guide, we don’t know what that means. What we do see are restaurants with WiFi! So, being only 11AM, we find seats in the shade and soon we spot a fellow traveler, Marg (short for Margaret and pronounced with a hard ‘G’) from New Zealand. Quite the fun lady we have been discovering and she is older than us so we share like minded ideas such as riding instead of walking!

Marg has already contracted for a horse and wagon that took her into Petra and will take her out. Her driver is more than thrilled that she has friends to share the ride, and despite his haggling, we get a ride out with her back to the Treasury for 30 Dinars for the 2 of us. She then piggybacks on our ride from the Treasury to the Entrance and all is good.

We get back to the Entrance before 2PM and decide not to wait for the 4PM bus. We find the taxi stand and it is only $10 Dinars for the 3 of us back to our hotel. The rides in and out of Petra make much better money!

Back at the hotel, Elee and I check out the pool and go for a swim. The water was cool and took some time to get into. Feeling a bit refreshed, we go back to the room for a much appreciated nap. I wake up and see I have a WhatsApp message from Marg, wanting to share her good fortune by scoring a bottle of wine in Petra. Our hotel is dry of alcohol! So she comes to our room with the wine transferred into a water bottle as if it must be concealed!

I will now and forever call Marg the “Naughty Schoolgirl”! This one’s for you Marg! May you stay ‘naughty’!

We go downstairs and have a bowl of soup each (very good Lentil and Corn Soups) for dinner and then retire to our room for the night!

See you all tomorrow for the next adventure!

Egypt & Beyond Day 14, Lawrence of Arabia Meets Star Wars

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Today is a busy day! We awake and get breakfast in the Bedouin Camp and have a little time to take some photos around the Camp. Fun note as to how they handle the dirty dishes and carry them away! And fabric covers everything!

Then we climb into open pickups loaded with seats for 6 in the back of each. We are taken for an off road adventure into the dunes of Wadi Rum. You have all seen this place. It is where they filmed Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars (Tatooine), Dune and other movies. It is as desolate in real life as it is in the movies! We get to walk in the dunes and even some people try to run! We stop at a rock formation that resembles The Titanic sinking and we all climb it!

We stop for tea at another Bedouin Camp that tries to sell us their wares. A few purchases are made but not many. The different types of Bedouin Camps are interesting to drive past.

Then it’s back to Camp where we check out and load back onto our bus. We drive for an hour and a half to a place called the Citadel which requires a lot of walking uphill and down. The group ops not to visit. So we see the World’s Smallest Hotel (one room outdoors, LOL, in an old VW).

On the way to our next hotel, we stop at an old train station. Any of you who watch The Amazing Race might recognize it from a few weeks ago as they had an episode in Jordan! We are given 2 hours to freshen up at our hotel for the next 2 days, the Petra Canyon Hotel, easily a 5 Star Hotel but slated as 4. and rest before boarding our bus again for dinner and it is good! I have Lamb Sawany, a lamb type stew, and Elee has fish.

We leave dinner at 8PM and enter Petra (Only a 5 minute ride from our hotel) for a night hike that does not disappoint, except for the 2 kilometer hike each way. We get to the Treasury totally exhausted but it is lit up in changing colors and a treat for our camera lenses!

We walk back out, slowly because it is now uphill and we are tired. But we make it back to the bus in time and ride back to the hotel. Now to write this Blog and upload photos and we say goodnight!

Egypt & Beyond Day 13, Bedouin Camp

Tuesday, October, 25, 2022

Today has become interesting. The goal is to travel to Jordan. We get a bit of a ‘Lay-in’ until 7:30 AM and have a departure time from the resort at 9AM. We get breakfast and check out. Our bags are brought to the vans and loaded. It is an hour and a half ride to the Ferry that will bring us across the Bay of Aqaba to Jordan but turns into 2 hours because one of our three vans has lost its way and we wait for it to catch up. Elee grabs a nap on the bus.

Once at the port, we check our luggage through x-ray. Twice. Then we put it on a conveyor belt hoping it is the right place. We go into the Terminal which means we show out tickets and passports. Three times. Then we wait. And wait. The Ferry is not on a time schedule. Rather, it will leave when enough people and vehicles are there to load. Hours go by. We find a way to lay down on benches and get a cat nap. Finally, someone of some authority comes around and tells us to ‘wait over there’, indicating a corner of the Terminal.

So we wait again but not long. We are ushered to a bus where we are packed in like sardines for a short ride to the Ferry. The bus comes to a stop. We are not allowed off. Finally, the bus drives an additional 50 feet, literally, and we are allowed to get off and get in line to board the Ferry. No photos are allowed.

We show our tickets and passports to board. We walk up a ramp and turn to go up a second ramp where we have to show our tickets and passports. Again. I kiddingly quip that we have to show them for every level and people chuckle. We go up the ramp to the passenger level and, you guessed it, we have to show our tickets again! Sheesh! We are also told not to take photos of the Ferry. Wow!

So here we sit on the Ferry waiting for it to load and move. It is 3:30PM and it’s a 2 hour Ferry ride. Then it’s supposed to be another 1.5 hour bus ride and we’re supposed to ride camels into a Bedouin camp for the night. I don’t know how this will work out. The Ferry finally pulls away just before 4PM.

We arrive in Jordan around 6:30PM. It is not difficult to get through Customs in our group. We board a bus with our new guide, Bilar, and 3 more hours later we are pulling into a Bedouin Camp for the night. Think rustic. Then downgrade a little more. But they serve us a fabulous lamb dinner which they dig up from the ground when we arrive. I even manage to score a glass of wine!

Then it’s off to our rustic room for the night. At least it has a bathroom!