Saturday, January 07, 2006

Aqaba: Friday 30th December 2005

Relaxed start to the day for the 2-hour trip back to the Aqaba Gulf Hotel, quite a bit flasher than the Petra Palace Hotel we just left. After check-in we walked along the waterfront to the old fort, past the public beaches where the women were sitting in the shallows fully clothed. Leaving the fort we wandered back up through the old town and the markets, then modern ‘downtown’ and back to the hotel. The next excursion was to Safeway supermarket at the far end of town after which we threaded our way back through the ‘residential area’, which was fairly scruffy.

As we got closer to the hotel are we were accompanied by a local man who effusively welcomed us to Jordan and asked where we were from. After clearing up the misunderstanding of ‘Switzerland’ = ‘New Zealand’ he identified NZ as No 1 in water-skiing (not sure about that). As we walked along be asked if my belt was made in NZ. It was, a very old (70’s) tooled leather belt. He asked if he could swap to have a souvenir of NZ. He seemed so keen to do so, so we checked sizes and, satisfied, made the swap. He stated that he was ‘over the moon’ and I am now the proud owner of a rather plain, genuine Jordanian belt (made in Italy.)

Note the member of the armed forces outside the hotelOne feature that was very evident at all the hotels was the emphasis on security. They all had, obviously new, scanners at the doors, all the driveways were blocked with bollards to prevent car bombers and the main road to the hotel area of Aqaba was permantently restricted to one lane with police stopping and inspecting cars passing that point.

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