After waiting around for most of the day in the Nuweiba terminal, we finally boarded the fast ferry and arrived in Aqaba a short hour and a half later.
Our first encounter with Jordanians was with its Customs officials. We noticed a difference in culture when the Customs agents yelled at the pushy Egyptians to get back in line and stop budging. We both smiled at each other… finally some order! The agents did not tolerate rude line jumping, a drastic change from the disorder of Egypt.
We didn't have a hotel booked, a norm for us because we prefer to see the hotel before making any commitments, so we had the taxi driver drop us in the downtown core. We felt the budget pinch right away - a decent hotel with private bath was JD20, approximately CDN$30, which was a big jump from the CDN$14 per night that we were spending in Egypt.
We settled into our hotel and noticed a liquor store next door. After the long and frustrating day we were both keen to sample the local Jordanian beer. We purchased a beer called Petra and felt drunk after the first large can. This was likely due to the fact that it was a whopping 10% alcohol. Isn't it funny that a Muslim country would have the highest percentage of beer that we've ever had!?
We had our fill of snorkeling and diving in Dahab so we decided to only stay two nights in Aqaba. We were eager to explore the infamous Wadi Rum. After a day of sightseeing and another great Middle Eastern dinner, we passed a street side tea house and decided to mingle with the locals and smoke a shisha.
We met two Jordanian men who were eager to talk to foreigners. This was our first introduction into true Jordanian hospitality. We talked about drinking, marriage, religion, night clubs and live in Jordan. One man seemed to stick to the conventional Muslim way of life; he was married, didn't drink and was much more conservative. The other wanted us to come out to a nightclub with him to party and drink Whiskey or Vodka. We had to politely decline because we had an early bus to Wadi Rum the following morning, but we had a great time chatting with them and learning about Jordanian culture.
We knew from that moment that we were going to enjoy the people of Jordan.
Jordan is a liberal Arab country that is relatively clean, organized and progressive. We thoroughly enjoyed the food - our favorites included Turkish salad (similar to a spicy fresh salsa), fresh hummus with olive oil, lamb kebab, minced meat pancakes and falafels.
Throughout our travels we had heard many great things about Jordan and its people. We enjoyed our short time in Aqaba and looked forward to a night camping under the stars in the rocky desert of Wadi Rum.
November 3rd, 2009