Crossing Jordan

I couldn’t leave Egypt without one last figurative punch to the face. My trip from Egypt to Jordan ended up being more tumultuous than I had bargained for and I’d like to recount it briefly here.

Not wanting to wake up super early to catch the 6 am ferry to Jordan, I opted instead to try for a noon ferry. The boat was sxheduled to leave from Nuweiba, a town an hour north of Dahab where I spent my last three days in Egypt. The bus from Dahab to Nuweiba dropped me at the port at 11:45 am so I was scrambling to try to get on the noon ferry.

Unfortunately, when I tried to enter the port they sent me back saying I needed to buy my ticket first. But I couldn’t find the ticket office. When I finally found it, I encountered a surly guy manning the desk who was barking at myself and three Japanese travelers who had been on the bus with me. He kept ahouting for us to sit down and wait, and five us money quickly or he wouldnt give us our tickets. Then as soon as we gave him money for our tickets he took his sweet time giving us our tickets.

I thought my shot at the noon ferry was gone but rushed to the port to see if I could still make it. Inside the port there were no signs for where to go, only a large hangar-like space with the words “Departure” on it. I was asking anyone I could find when the boat would leave but kept getting different answers: one hour, 2 pm, 3 pm. Regardless of whether I had missed the boat, I was in for a wait.

This departure terminal was so run down its a wonder it’s still standing. People were sprawled across the rickety wooden benches lining the large hall amidst a musty smell made worse by the heat.

the departure terminal

another shot

Then I went to the bathroom. Words can’t describe how filthy this bathroom was so I will let the pictures I took speak for themselves.

I knew I was in for an adventure as soon as I walked in

I saw these urinals and headed for a stall

the coup de grace…and no that only looks like chili

By this point I was ready to leave the departure terminal to find out when the boat was actually going to leave. The terminal opened up to an asphalt jungle of trucks and buildings. Everyone I asked for help either didn’t speak English or didn’t know. So I headed for the water figuring the boat has to leave from there so it’s as good a place as any to go.

I walked up and down the pier asking every boat if they were going to Aqaba. Finally I found my boat but it wasn’t leaving for an hour. But really that was only when it was getting ready to board.

The boat didn’t leave until 4:30 pm, four and a half hours late. But at least it left, liberating us from the treachery of Nuweiba’s port.

However, between the late start, a boat ride clocking in at three and a half hours (an hour longer than scheduled), Jordan being an hour ahead of Egypt, and extensive time getting my Jordanian visa, I wasn’t ready to leave the Aqaba port until 10 pm.

Now my plans had been to head from the port directly to a bedouin camp in Wadi Rum but given the time that was no longer possible.

So I decided to grab a taxi with the three Japanese guys. Two cops outside the ferry told us a taxi should cost no more than 5 Jordanian Dinars (JD) or about $7 to get to downtown Aqaba. When someone approached us on our way to the taxi stand, asking us if we needed a taxi, he quickly agreed to that price.

The driver he took us to, though, did not. He insisted on 8 JD. I was able to get him down to 6 JD but he wouldn’t budge from there and we agreed to just take it. He apparently didn’t like my haggling and spent the rest of the trip explaining to me how the taxi system works in Jordan while making snide remarks about how we would not find a room for the night because 60,000 people had come down from Amman for Eid.

None of us had planned to stay in Aqaba so we had no accommodation lined up. I had given the taxi driver the name of a place I found on a saved web page but knew nothing about it.

When we were dropped off there they did have available rooms but the prices were astronomical. So we bounced from hotel to hotel where we saw that trend continually repeat itself. Hotels with no charm or anything redeeming about them were charging more than much nicer places I had stayed at during my trip.

Their justification was all the people visiting for the holiday, which allowed them to raise prices two to three times above normal. Finally, we came to a place where I just had enough, found the price and room less objectionable than the rest, and stayed put. By this point I was so exhausted that continuing this exercise in futility made no sense even for a few less JD. The Japanese guys though continued their search for something cheaper.

It was quite a journey but at least I was now in Jordan. Thankfully, my next stop was Wadi Rum, which almost made up for the whole trip from Egypt.

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4 Responses to Crossing Jordan

  1. Hi Matt- phew! I’m exhausted just reading your post. What a nightmare and so frustrating! But always a challenge. The pics are unbelievable. It’s amazing the filth people live in. But at least you are in Jordan & hopefully having a great time!

  2. Kim Trautmann says:

    Holy. Smokes. That is gross.

  3. Pingback: 3 Months on the Road « Raw Focus

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