Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Petra, Amman, and back to Israel

Hello again.

Much has happened since the last post. We spent another day in Dahab just relaxing on the beach, in the house, and hanging out with Maya's camels (they have 2 camels). The next morning it was time to cross to Jordan by ferry. What I originally thought would be just a few hours took the entire day. In short, all of the tourists were lied to so that we could pay more money for the 'fast ferry' and we waited many many hours until actually getting on the ferry and crossing over to Aqaba, Jordan. The 'slow ferry' would have got us there much earlier I think. But it wasn't that bad because we met many other travelers that were waiting with us and it's always fun exchanging stories with other people.

We took a taxi with a spanish couple from Aqaba to Wadi Musa (next to Petra) where we then got a taxi to our host's house. Our host here, also from couchsurfing, was a 20 year old girl named Ameera who was part of a bedoin family (name: Abushadi). We were nicely welcomed in their home with some bedoin tea and some really good food and just talked to the dad for a while.

So, 20 some years ago, all the bedoins in Petra actually used to live in the caves in Petra, born and raised there and working with tourists. But then the government kicked most of them out of the caves and built all of them small homes on the top of a hill in a place now known as Bedoin Village, this is where we were staying. The homes were no longer small. Our host dad said that most of the bedoins knocked down the homes and built bigger and nicer ones. This would explain the huuge house that we were staying in with flatscreen TVs and a nice car (not what you would expect when you hear 'Bedoin'). Either way, our host was born in a cave along with many others here... pretty sweeet

The next morning the dad took us to the entrance to Petra to get tickets. It seems like he knew everyone here because everyone he walked by shook his hand and ssaid something then Abushadi. We got the tickets and I realized I need a hat. I went to buy one from one of those people that sell all kinds of tourists stuff on the street but the guy gave me the hat for free and said 'no price for you, Abushadi good friend of mine'. I thanked him a few times and we went in the park.
It's tough to describe Petra but it is amazing! Walking through Petra, we went in many of the caves and other places made by the Nabatean people many years ago. I could spend weeks just hiking around this place. There's the normal walkthrough through the site but there are also many other paths to take and places to see than just that. In one place, Aushrine bought some jewelry from a bedoin. By the time she was done choosing, one of the bedoins invited us to sit and have some tea. We hung out while they got some water, started a small fire and made the tea. Afterwards 2 of the guys, Sammy and Promise (who still live in the caves), started to take us to a nice place where there was some fresh springwater and small stream and not one other person around. They made some more tea, found a bushel of grapes and we hung out and walked a little around the mountain. It was getting late so we started to head back to Bedoin Village. As soon as we got to Bedoin Village, a million people seemed excited to see us (probably because tourists are usually never there just walking around) and sat us down to have some tea. I think that these Bedoins really love their tea. After a cup we went back to the house and ate and relaxed a bit. Later we went to the bedoin wedding. They celebrate for 3 nights when someone gets married. All the guys are together dancing, drinking tea, and on the 3rd night eating. The women are separate and from what Aushrine told me, they just sit and don't do much. But the guys are all having lots of fun. I danced for a bit, or at least tried to. But what a day... walking through Petra, chillin' with some cavemen and then going to a bedoin wedding.

The next day we also went into Petra to see more places and at night went to the last night of celebration for the wedding where everyone eats. There were many tables with all the guys sitting around them and they brought out plates the size of each table. Each plate had a goat head in the middle, with the meat, rice and some other stuff around it. Everyone around the table ate with their hands and then the leftovers went to the women and children.. I was lucky to be a guy.

We spent 2 days in Amman with a really cool host, KK, from couchsurfing. It's a big city with a few cool things to see. The second night we hung out with my friend that was living there. I met her at Drexel because she studied english for a couple months there. It was fun, she drove us to some different places and we met some of her family and friends.

After Amman, time to go back to Israel. Between the Jordanian and Israeli sides in the border crossing and then getting back to where we were staying in Israel, it was another entire day event. The israelis are strict with letting people in. It makes sense, they have to be careful with safety and whatever other reasons they have to not let people through. But I recommend having a line for Israeli citizens because then I could've saved many hours.

Now back in Israel, I've spent a day in Tel Aviv where I met up with a friend from freshmen year and I started to plan some future travels. I found a cheap ticket from London to Milan so will be stopping there on my way back to the states. Also realized that I have no empty pages on my passport so I went to the US embassy to have more pages added. I'll travel for the next few days and then going to spend one or two weeks working on a farm through WWOOF. Also there's many pictures waiting to be uploaded but I'll do it when I have some more time.

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