Friday, January 23, 2009

goodbye egypt, hello jordan

Here's a shot of Rahima's cousins in front of the Alexandria library- Salem, Annette (not a cousin), Sarag, Rahima, and Sara.
We stayed with them for a couple nights and they took us all over Alexandria and showed us just how much we have been overpaying for EVERYTHING in Egypt. Apparently there are prices, and then there are tourist prices. They are a lot of fun and I am hoping that they'll make it out to SF one day so I can show them what things are like in the land of the infidels. I'm pretty sure it'll blow their minds.
Here's Annette and Rahima buying a kilo of bananas (at regular prices with Aunt Nahid standing by) for our 30+ hour journey from Alexandria to Petra, Jordan.
I knew from past experience that Egyptian public transport never leaves on time and always takes much longer than expected. We took a bus from Alex to Cairo, waited around for a couple hours then caught a freezing cold night bus with no bathroom to Nuweiba, Egypt. We arrived at 5am and settled in at an outdoor coffee/sheesha (hooka) place until the ferry ticket office opened at 9am. Then we moved our stuff over to the ticket office until 5pm, when the ferry finally loaded everyone up (supposed to leave at 2pm). Luckily we met a good crew of people while waiting and we've been hanging out with them since. Then we took the ferry from Nuweiba to Aqaba, Jordan and then a two hour taxi ride to Petra.

Petra is beautiful! (Thank you Donna, for the tip)
There are crazy giant sandstone walls everywhere and facades carved into them. Petra used to be a city of 30,000 and these days it is one of the new 7 wonders of the world. The place is riddled with caves, tourists, and Bedouins trying to sell you a ride on a donkey.
We spent the whole day here, hiked all over the place. I got some beautiful pictures and was amazed every time I turned the corner.

Here is a little boy selling us postcards in the middle of our photo op in front of the Treasury. The little guy wouldn't take no for an answer so I pulled him into our picture (not shown) and he smiled then as soon as the camera went down, he continued with his sales pitch.

I can't remember the name of this building at the moment, but it is gorgeous. Inside the ceiling is also sandstone but looks like marble with pinks, grays, and blacks.

Me in front of the "monastery".
Jordan is completely different from Egypt in the following ways:
1. The use of headlights at night is not considered a waste of battery.
2. People don't hassle you to buy things.
3. Taxis are impeccably clean.
4. The Jordanian dinare is equal to the British pound and everything is expensive.
Bear in mind that so far I've only seen the port and Petra so far, so my observations are to be taken with a grain of salt.
Tomorrow we head to Amman via the Dead Sea by taxi. Sarahima and Annette have a flight out of Jordan the day before I do. :( I'm really gonna miss their company, but I am looking forward to meeting my friend Molly in Istanbul!
We got to catch the inauguration on tv in Egypt, but I couldn't hear any of what Obama was saying because it was dubbed in Arabic. I am hoping that someone taped it for me so I can watch it when I get back. Maybe youtube will be an option if I ever find a fast computer.
I am reading Dreams From My Father and I love Obama more with every page. I'm really proud and hopeful for the new president. Already things are different for the traveling American. When I was in South America 5 years ago, the war in Iraq had just started, and I got yelled at a lot and I was asked "why is your country doing this?!"; but now people don't yell at me, and I've had some really interesting conversations about politics.
Yesterday the Jordanian customs officer who stamped my passport smiled at me and said "Obama!" as he handed back my passport. Things are looking up for traveling Americans.
Well, I hope you have all enjoyed reading about the adventures of Jenny. I will write more in a few days.


Albert, Simply Put said...

Great update -- love the comparison's between Egypt and Jordan. But seriously, if you find yourself in dire straights, shout that you're Canadian -- that'll tell them to leave you alone... ;)

MaryWilcox said...

Jenny! This is wonderful! Also wonderful : Simone and my dear friend Nick is living in Berkley this summer...

cassandra said...

Lleni...sooo, Turkey! be sure to drink the tea there. A turkish lady who came to my farmer's market stand was talking to me about it and i'm curious to learn more. And 'dreams of my father'...yay! i was reading it when mccain made that comment in a debate about him knowing nothing about the developing world because he's never been 'south of the border'. wha?? so mccain's mexican resort vacations surpass time spent living in indonesia and with family in kenya? crazy old man...

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