Arriving in Amman & Escaping to Petra
// September 20th, 2012 // Jordan
I landed in Amman only to be greeted on the bus into the city by a slimy married Egyptian man who insisted we share a hotel room together only to ‘save money’. I responded with some sarcastic remark about how I was sure his wife would be perfectly fine with that. Though he did follow me to my hotel, I finally was able to ditch him. The hotel worker did not speak English so he simply showed me to my room and refused to let me pay- I assumed I was to pay later when the English-speaking manager (who had rave reviews on Hostelworld) was around. I had looked forward to getting his advice on Amman but was quickly discouraged by my accommodations. It smelled of stale smoke, I later learned my bed had bedbugs, and there was no one else staying in my dorm so it was a bleak start. I left to get dinner and decided to skip town early the next morning and just head on to Wadi Musa. I would be returning to Amman for the Dead Sea Marathon and planned to sightsee in the city then. I left the hostel around 5am and when the person turned around at the reception desk, it turned out to be another traveler. I just set my keys on the desk and left. Frankly, getting the room for free wasn’t even a bargain- that’s how bad it was.
I caught a taxi to the bus station, and though there were minibuses everywhere, I was told to sit on the curb next to an empty spot to wait for the bus I needed. Finally, a bus showed up and I climbed in. As it started to fill, I was told by the driver to move seats to sit next to another woman, so that she would not be sitting next to a man. When I traveled in Egypt, I was with a group, so I never had this experience before in the Middle East. The rest of our van was all men and no one really spoke. I wasn’t sure if the woman next to me spoke English, so I was quiet for some time, until she finally greeted me. With her head partially down, and slightly timid, she shared with me that she was a teacher and was going to visit some of her family. A college guy behind me then started conversation and didn’t stop until we arrived in Wadi Musa. I was relieved that somebody talked to me! The minibus dropped us on the edge of town, and I went in search of a hotel. I got a room in a recently renovated hotel and went out for shawarma. The receptionist brought some rice, cooked with fermented yogurt and topped with almonds, to my room so I could try.
I had passed on the hotel dinner option, simply because I was trying to travel on a tight budget. The increase in Jordan tourism in recent years, even before they did a big marketing and PR campaign with travel bloggers, has caused prices to soar. It is cheap by US standards, but hotel, food, and transport were still more expensive in Jordan than it was for me in Egypt.
I planned to spend the next two days exploring Petra and could not wait to discover the beautiful architecture carved into the earth and get a glimpse into the Bedouin lifestyle that still exists today.