|It would seem from our dispatches in Israel and the Palestinian Territories that we obsessed on the complicated issues and missed the good things offered by the people and places we visited. In fact, we very much enjoyed and appreciated the kind hospitality of people we met. We had four days of much needed R+R in the company and care of friends of Gregg's parents who live in the suburbs of Tel Aviv. We slept late, were fed lots, talked into the night with our hosts, and learned how to make gefilte fish in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. And yet while we were recharging our batteries, Gregg and I continued yammering away about the issues of the region. Clearly, our minds were preoccupied.
Our trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories involved much more brain exercise than we'd anticipated—afterall, we were (and still are!) rather green on subjects dealing with this part of the world but sought to know more. It wasn't until we crossed the border back into Jordan that we felt a surge of mental release. We had spent two weeks in Jordan prior to our trip to Israel/Palestinian Territories—visiting Wadi Rum and Petra in the south, and acquainting ourselves over a week in Amman. We'd become friends with an Iraqi-Armenian family temporarily residing in Jordan and looked forward to seeing them again. We knew our way around, had our favorite eateries, had a hotel to return to and find the belongings we left behind, and naturally, we had time left on our card at the Internet cafe where we whiled away many hours connecting to the outside world. Arriving back at the bus station in Amman was akin to returning from a work assignment back home in San Francisco; we'd accumulated information and experiences and were coming home to write up our report.
Judging from our introduction to Jordan we would have never guessed our stay would be as long as it turned out. We took a ferry from the Sinai in Egypt and cruised up the Gulf of Aqaba—a pleasant enough day's ride. But disembarking was another story. We anchored just before sundown but it took us an hour to be herded off the ferry like cattle to a slaughterhouse into transport trucks to the customs building, and another two hours to get through the madness of the crowds into a taxi for Aqaba city. This was worse than anywhere I'd experienced even in China!
The red-rock desert moonscape of Wadi Rum and the fantastic ancient city of Petra quickly readjusted our impressions of Jordan. It generally felt like a calm, comfortable and relatively orderly country to travel in. We enjoyed frequent friendly conversations with shopkeepers and restaurant owners—beginning to feel like regulars when we were brought our coffee and tea the way we like without a word of request.