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Published: June 11th 2017
On the Desert Highway on the way to Aqaba
We were up, packed, and breakfasted, ready to leave at 8:15 this morning. Mohammed and Sami (our driver) were a little late picking us up at our hotel (Mohammed spent the night at the other hotel where 4 other new members of our group were staying). We met another new member, Patrick, from London, this morning at breakfast.
The other four new members are a family from Brazil: Paloma and her mother Sonia, and Paloma's aunt Marisa and uncle Luis.
Unfortunately we had a very sad incident this morning. I had just got into the mini van when I heard some commotion outside and people were staying "it's broken". I left the mini van to see Patrick on the ground, with one foot stuck out in a very unnatural position. He had tripped and fallen while carrying his bag. An ambulance was called, his insurance company was called, and he was taken to hospital. It turns out his ankle was dislocated, which had to be repaired with surgery. Because he has heart problems (he has a pacemaker) this was done under local anaesthetic. Unfortunately Patrick's trip ended before it really started. He only flew in from London last night.
So we were about an hour late leaving Amman. We made a bathroom and coffee stop after about 2 hrs (Susan and I had a Turkish coffee - they generally call it Turkish coffee here, not Arabic coffee). Mohammed kept us informed about Patrick's condition as we travelled, as we were naturally all very concerned. Patrick will be all right, but he is not able to continue the trip. So we are a group of 13 for our Jordan trip.
The landscape up to this point was not too scenic, but as we got closer to Aqaba we were surrounded by dramatic granite hills. We passed Bedouin villages, herds of sheep, and the occasional camel! We reached Aqaba about 2 pm, and quickly checked into the Days Inn. It isn't up to the standard of the other hotels on the trip and I think Peregrine could definitely improve in their choice of hotel here in Aqaba.
We then changed into our bathing suits, and headed out to the boat for our afternoon of snorkelling. Shortly after the boat left the dock we were served lunch. Unfortunately there wasn't much in the way of vegetarian options (just salad
and rice). There was barbecued chicken which Susan said was tasty.
It was really beautiful in the Gulf of Aqaba. The contrast between the blue water and the dramatic brown hills is really lovely. Here four countries meet: Jordan, Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. We were very close to Eliat, in Israel.
The Gulf of Aqaba is very open and it was quite windy and rough, with lots of whitecaps. The wind and the current made it too difficult for us to be able to swim around, so we just ended up hanging on to the rope or the life ring as we snorkelled. It was like being in an aquarium. So many beautiful fish, and the coral reef just below. It was too bad it wasn't calmer, but I think these conditions are pretty common. We watched the sunset as we headed back to Aqaba.
We had an hour to shower and then we headed out for dinner at Floka Restaurant, just around the corner from our hotel. It was a really good dinner. We had arabic bread and various dips and salads to share, then we all had a fish dinner. I had grilled grouper
filet, and Susan had a fish dish which is a speciality of Aqaba with rice and a slightly spicy sauce, the name of which I can't remember. They were both very good. The fish portions were huge so it was good there were about 5 hungry cats by our table.
We started with a Petra beer (the only Jordanian beer on the menu). It turned out to be 8% alcohol! Susan also enjoyed an arak. There were an assortment of sweets for dessert, and Susan and I had a Turkish coffee.
Some of us went for a walk with Mohammed around Aqaba for about 45 min or so. It was still very warm out at about 10 pm. The streets and public beach were full of people and families.
Tomorrow we don't leave until 10:30 so we finally have a late morning! We will be heading to Wadi Rum tomorrow, where we will be staying at the Luxury Nights Camp (google it, it looks awesome!). No wifi at the camp, so the blog will be delayed. After Wadi Rum we head to Petra!
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