We’ve had a rough week travel-wise. I didn’t get better in Dubai as I had hoped, even after taking it easy several days in a row and then spending a full day in bed. We returned to Israel for just 24 hours, in order to get back to where we had left off on our Around the World ticket.
After we landed in Israel on Wednesday, we had some errands we absolutely had to deal with, and then we headed to Elliott’s mom’s house for a night of R&R before boarding a plane to India the next morning. I was feeling horrible, but we hoped once again that I might wake up in the morning feeling much better. It was not to be. Instead, I woke up in the middle of the night AGAIN, with intense throat pain. The pain was so intense I was in tears, and this was not the first time. I had been sick for a full week, and my symptoms had gotten worse instead of better. It was time to stop pushing on.
And so it was that Elliott, his mom, and I were all up during the wee hours of the morning. Elliott had to learn VERY quickly how to make changes to our Around the World itinerary. Luckily, we are allowed to make date and time changes for free, even at the last minute. Unfortunately, after several hours on the phone, he found there were no flights going to Delhi with a quick connection in Amman, Jordan for over two more weeks (and we are not allowed to change connections or destinations, so we were forced to fly through Amman as originally planned). Our only option was to postpone both flights, but rather than stop for a few hours in Jordan, we’d now have to stop for several days. I figured we would go with that and I’d check each day, several times a day, to see if seats opened up on any flights going to India sooner rather than later.
It was the right decision, if not the most desirable one. With Elliott’s mom’s help we made it to a doctor in Israel who assured me I would live and prescribed me some medications. He even said it was okay for me to travel as long as I didn’t have a fever. We were only able to delay our first flight by one day, but it was just enough for me to feel better mentally that I wasn’t contracting pneumonia, and for the meds to kick in ever so slightly so that I had less pain and could at least get a couple of hours of sleep at one time. On Friday night, we found ourselves at a couch host’s house in Amman, Jordan. We were set to stay for five entire days, until the next flight to India had open seats.
It wasn’t ideal but we reset our sights and figured we’d rest my body and find some fun stuff to do. The first downer financially was when we arrived at the airport and had to pay $60 for Jordanian visas that we didn’t even really want. Jordan is fine, don’t get me wrong, but we were there five years ago and saw the sites we wanted to see. I wasn’t in good enough shape to hike miles through Petra again, and even if I was, it was many hours away.
Since we were arriving without much notice, we were still waiting for directions from our couch host when we got to Amman. We found out the hard way that there are no free wireless connections in the Amman airport. Luckily both the Information booth man and the Hertz Rental Car man took pity on us, and allowed Elliott to check his email once in awhile. Finally at 10:30pm, we got an email from our host with directions. I was so happy I would have a bed when I wasn’t feeling well!
There were more financial annoyances to come in Amman. Heading from the airport to our host’s home, we had to take a bus and then a taxi, and we knew what the taxi should cost. The driver charged us twice that much, but he found us standing under an overpass at night with big backpacks and so we didn’t have many options. I arrived irate at being ripped off!
The next day, our host drove us around to see some sites, including some beautiful views of the city from up high, some camels, and a horse jumping competition. Then he took us to the duty free store. We decided to splurge a little and buy some alcohol for ourselves, which seemed very cheap at $3.25 for a six-pack. We also decided to help out our host and some other surfers, who wanted to buy some items but didn’t have their passports with them. We put all of their items on our credit card and I was excited to earn some extra points with my credit card. But once we were on our way again and I examined the receipt in detail, I realized we had paid $3.25 for *each* bottle we bought; not for the six-pack. I hadn’t even noticed because we had so many other items on our bill. Ugh. We just spent 20 bucks on a six-pack of Smirnoff Ice that would have cost $7 at home. Once we got back, our host paid us half of what he owed us for his purchases and said he’d get us the rest the next day.
That Saturday night was a fun evening with our host, the other surfers staying there, and some of our host’s friends. Our fellow surfers introduced our host to gin, and he drank waaaaay too much. While we were trying to talk with the other surfers, who have been traveling outside of the US for three years, our host kept insisting we dance with him. Elliott played DJ, we all danced, and everyone took turns arm-wrestling our host at his demand (um, I mean, request). Eventually he passed out and the rest of us continued talking. Our surfer friends had just been to India and were a great wealth of information for us. At 1:30am, I checked the availability for flights from Amman to Delhi, and found two award seats had opened up for a flight Sunday night!
Amman became an instant whirlwind. After two hours of dealing with changing the tickets, we got to bed at 3:30am. We woke up late Sunday and started packing, but found our host was gone. It turns out the regular work week in Jordan includes Sundays, but he never mentioned it and we didn’t know – especially since he got his party on the night before. What a bummer. We would be unable to say goodbye in person, and we’d never see the rest of the money he owed us again. Ironically we were okay for him to have some of our money considering he was hosting us, but Jordan just felt like it had become a money pit in the 48 hours we were there!
When we left in the afternoon for the airport, we walked to the taxis and asked one after another to take us to the bus station. No one understood us, and no one seemed to know what bus station we were talking about. After asking several taxi drivers, a police man and a shwarma store owner, we were beginning to wonder if we’d be stuck paying the exorbitant amount to take a taxi all the way to the airport. At least the people in Jordan are very helpful. We found ourselves surrounded by five men who wanted to help, and one of them called someone who spoke more fluent English, and we finally got things figured out. Of course, no matter how we bartered, the price was still coming out super high even to take us to the bus station. I wasn’t surprised, and yet I was getting *so* *tired* of having my wallet drained here.
We paid our fare and were driven to the bus station, which was actually a strange airport terminal off-site from the actual airport. They can check your bags there, and transport them to the airport, and at the same time they take you to the airport on a special shuttle. Sigh. The men helping us and the taxi driver never really did understand that all we wanted was the normal bus station. We went with it. As we checked our bags and took them through a security check, we were asked to open them. They didn’t want any liquids bigger than 3 ounces in the *checked* baggage. What? Since when can’t you have liquids in your checked bags?
The culprits were the four leftover bottles of Smirnoff Ice we had not drunk the night before. We pulled them out of our bags and boarded the bus with them. At $3.25 apiece, we were not about to part with them. We sat near the back of the bus and had to improvise greatly by using a binder clip to try and open them. “Wanna drink?” I said. It was truly one of the best bus rides we’ve had in a loooong time. And suddenly, we realized we were having one of those great travel moments that we couldn’t have created if we tried.