Monday, August 07, 2006

The Middle East Before the War: what I should have posted last October

I went to the middle east and was planning to blog it. Unfortunately, there was very little internet access, so I'm only transcribing it now.I should be getting it all up by the end of next week.


Oct 7th

New York City 5PM

So the journey begins…the signs on the posts last week seem to be incorrect. .: there was a JFK train right there when I stepped on the platform. We should be leaving Manhattan any minute now…

JFK airport, Queens New York 6PM
It took less than 40 minutes to get from my apartment to Queens via Brooklyn. This is actually good timing….

JFK 7:45 PM

We’re on the plane and we’re allegedly going to take off quite soon. The plane is far more empty than I ‘d expected, but that may change—this , then is the beginning of the great adventure, with five minutes of boarding left, w are 5732 miles (92224 kilometers) from out destination—we’re going to be on this tub for ten hours at least, and the seats’ already beginning to hurt my butt, but what can we do? We cans till get off but that would be a waste of thousands of unearned dollars. The trip is going to be ten hours and fifteen minutes long, and then four weeks on the ground before getting home at5 last.

JFK 9PM

We’ve been taxiing around the airport for about forty minutes and it seems that we won’t leave the ground any time soon. I guess that the pone call informing me that the flight would be an hour shorter than planned was a bit premature. Who knows? We’ll take off from Macarthur field near the Hamptons at this rate, Jeez!

11: 45 PM, somewhere over Long Island, NY

WE take off at last—ten more hours of this and we should arrive around noon, New York time. I’ll be zombified for most of not all of the day, which’ll start any minute now.—I’m not sure how much sleep I’m supposed to get, as there’s a huge time lag between here and Jordan.

OCT 8th—Day One

7 AM (NY TIME) Somewhere over Europe

The Jordanian Dinar is worth more than a US buck and the visa bough at the airport costs about ten , of them which is affordable, but annoying. Syria is paid for and Lebanon is probably free. But there are exit charges as well and that is something to think about when the times comes. In the mean time I was able to lie down and get about six and a half hours sleep. According to the TV map, we’re over the toe of Italy, and are now heading over the eastern Mediterranean.

We’re going to land in two and a quarter hours, which means that there’s time enough for another nap….

Amman Jordan 7 PM (Moscow Time)

Things started going wrong from the minute I left the terminal. First there are no busses due to Ramadan, then there were no dorm beds due to Ramadan, however there was a hotel room. Then there were no restaurants open due to Ramadan, which is strange as it’s past sundown, and all those eateries should be open by now. I had a filling dinner and met some people from the trip, a new Zealand couple and an Aussie lady who lost her luggage in Bahrain. They seemed very nice. I’m going on a different tour in the morning and be back from the thing by five in the afternoon. This may have been a mistake, but we’re going to have to get back by five if we leave by seven. The guy’s very persuasive, I guess and it’s too late to get my forty bucks back.

Oct 9-Day Two

I had a restless night’s sleep. I kept getting up every whour sor so. I guess it was nervousness or something like that . I tried the internet at the hotel, but it didn’t work. I left my stuff at the Caravan hotel, although ZI didn’t check in as the registrar was nowhere to be found….that expensive day tour ZI shouldn’t have bought strts in about five to ten minutes or whenever that other guy shows up.

NOON:

We’ve been on the road since 7:30 and made about three stops—all archeological sites—Gadara and Pella, and Saladin’s nephew’s castle in Sjura. We’re making a curve around the western end of Jordan going north to the Syria border…at the Gadara ruins we could see the Sea of Galilee and the Golan Heights. Most of the time we’re just driving. I slept a good part of the time between the northeastern border and the castle. The Gadara ruins were rather extensive, and the castle which is in good shape despite earthquakes and the like, but it’s main attraction is the temperature, which is quite cool. We would have had lunch, but as it’s Ramadan, none of the restaurants are open. There’s a donkey carrying stuff…how Quaint!

Amman 8PM

The orientation meeting has started. Semi-independent travel. They like to use public transport and the group is a maximum of twelve and I’m not the only American here…the local culture is important: appropriate dress, not shorts, although that’s what I’m wearing…Mostly hotels except for the second night where we stay in a buduine tent. In general checkout times ar around eleven or noon. Breakfast is included except for Petra…always take a hotel cart for taxies. Extra incidentals are, of course, extras, and that includes laundry, most of what the guy’s saying are the usual safety precautions…the vehicles are all over the place, water sis scares as it’s a fucking desert, Ramadan is a problem where lunch is concerned. I may lose some weight.

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