Archive for December, 2010

Dearest Egpyt,

I shall not miss:
your filthy over-crowded streets
the harassment
the smog-filled air
constantly being ripped off

I will miss:
the rich culture you hold
the friends I made
bargaining with shop keepers
traveling all around the region

I have learned so much during this study abroad semester. I have experienced things, both bad and good, that many people will never get the chance to do.  I feel as though I have been slightly changed by my trip abroad.

For someone who was already highly patriotic before this trip, my love for this country grew exponentially. I learned to appreciate the little things so much more. Things like: taxis arriving on time, being able to go anywhere by myself, things happening how they should, administrations working properly. The way things work in Egypt makes the DMV on the first and last week of the month look good.

Although I was constantly frustrated, my patience was tried over and over, and I missed so many things at home, I am glad I decided to study abroad this past semester. I now have first hand experience in a country that holds such a prominent influence in a region my studies focus on.

We had our issues dear Egypt, but I shall miss you…one day

Upon our arrival in Amman, we promptly caught a taxi and found our hotel. Now at first I was a little scared about the place I had chosen to stay…there was a gang of bikers hanging out outside and we had to walk through this little ally filled with them and their motorcycles (which made me miss the feel of riding a motorcycle at home). But we got checked in, loaded our stuff onto the tiny elevator – me straddling my suitcase so that we could both fit – and fell onto our beds.

The next day we headed to the Dead Sea. We also went to Bethany, but that was not a pleasant part of the trip for me – I was able to see an ugly side of my traveling companion and had a hard time controlling my eager anger. But when we got to the Dead Sea, we put everything behind us and climbed into the salty salty water. To describe this sea as salty really is not doing it justice. It is far more salty than you could possibly imagine. And the actual act of floating was unreal. Even if you tried to push yourself down and reach the bottom, you weren’t able to. It was – crazy, amazing, unbelievable – insert adjective here.

After a much needed shower, we headed back to the hotel where we changed once more and headed to town. Savannah and I came across this amazing store on the main street. It had everything you could possibly want from Jordan as a touristy person – pillow cases, dead sea mud, scarves, shirts, swords, silver, purses, and other miscellaneous items. I spent far too much time and money in that one store. Nearly two hours later we left the store and tried to head back to the hotel, however, that was proving more difficult than originally thought. After asking someone for directions we finally made it to our hotel. Now let me take this moment to spotlight the greatness that does occur in this culture: when you ask someone for directions, a majority of the time they will take you there themselves and ask for nothing in return. It is truly amazing and gives me a little hope for civilization in a place where I almost lose it all.

That night we went to bed fairly early since we were venturing off to Petra in the morning…5:30 am in the morning to be precise. I have noticed that while I claim to be on vacation, I never am able to sleep as though I am on vacation. Anyway, we get up bright and early, pack our bags for the day and head out to the bus station. We were told the bus would leave at 7 so we got there 6:50 and boarded the bus. However, we did factor in that it was the first day of Eid al-Adha and we sat there for over an hour waiting for our departure. However while waiting we were able to witness something I thought was pretty incredible: it started with a few men in the parking lot spreading their rugs and beginning to pray – it led to over a hundred people gathering in this bus parking lot – everyone praying together – men in the front, women in the back. How many people can say they have witnessed something like that?

Finally on our way to Petra, a long boring bus ride – about 4 hours by bus. A word of warning to those who wish to visit this amazing mountainous city: it is much more expensive than you probably imagine. If you are staying in Petra the cost of a ticket is 50JD which is roughly $75. However, if you are NOT staying in Petra it is 90JD which is about $137. My advice, say you are staying in Petra, they won’t even ask where you are staying, but in case they do say Petra Gate. Also plan more than one day – you will not be satisfied with only one day in that place. It is just far beyond comprehension.

We bought our ticket, rode horses to to the entrance, but instead of entering the normal way (that of the Siq) we had a guide who took us the “Indiana Jones” way – a way without any path which causes you to climb and jump between mountains. It…was…AMAZING. There were absolutely no other tourists around us (which is my least favorite thing about visiting these types of sites) and the views were just amazing. I also got to hold a 15 minute old baby goat!?!?!