Anniversary in Aqaba

Trip Start Sep 27, 2008
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12
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Trip End Oct 18, 2008


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Monday, October 13, 2008

The plan was to spend a night in Aqaba--in a fancy hotel to clean up after 2 nights in the desert, and then go to Egypt for 2 nights to climb Mt. Sinai, returning to this fancy hotel for one other night after Egypt. Our plans were not to be.

We arrived a day early in Aqaba. We went into the beautiful hotel early after having driven an hour into town from Wadi Rum. We were dirty, smelly and desperately in need of coffee. The 3 Brits and we sat down in the outside dining area and ordered coffee. I went in to see if we could get a room today.

It was on this first day that we made friends with Kenan, a kohl-eyed Mr. Bean kind of guy who was exceedingly helpful. I had to speak to "Mr Ramsey" the manager--and even had to go into the back room offices of the hotel to "make a reservation". In the end, we would stay 5 nights here when the Egypt trip fell through--not just the original 2. Kenan was instrumental in helping us with the arrangements and kept us in the same room all 5 nights at a nice price.

So, Egypt was not to be on this journey. The group (Wings Tours) that was supposed to meet us at the Nuweiba ferry terminal e:mailed looking for final payment. We'd sent a copy of a credit card 2 weeks before and received confirmation that all was fine--so we weren't sure what the problem was. Now, they said they didn't have the card information and insisted on us paying cash in U.S. dollars upon arrival in Egypt. It was too suspicious, so we said no thanks and made a call to the credit card company for sanity's sake.

That meant we'd be here in Aqaba for 5 days--a beach and pool vacation. Biggest decisions of the day were "which pool?" "where to eat lunch/dinner?" and "do you want to go down to the beach?" We read books (I bought Queen Noor's biography and read it there) We got copper colored tans. We napped in the sun and in the shade--listening to the muezzins calling Aqaba to prayer. We swatted flies. We ate great meals at dinner on the Moevinpick campus. We ventured out to find oud music for Mark and to explore the area around us. We got lazy too. We watched movies in the room and left the window open to the night breezes in Aqaba.

There were pretty paintings in the lobby, and fresh flowers floating in the fountains. Four resident ducks would swim in the pool at twilight. Kenan sent us a bowl of fruit our last night. Very elegant place.

One of our favorite times of day was the breakfast buffet. There were resident cats who we fed. They played with the edges of the oriental rugs spread all over the courtyard. And there were resident crows--who waited until a table with food was unattended and would swoop in, grab a sausage and fly off. I enjoyed the hummus, capers, boiled egg, steamed tomatoes, chocolate croissants and orange slices. And we liked to watch the coffee-boys. Honestly, there's not really a more simple job--fill the coffee cups, bring milk/sugar and keep the coffee/tea brewed. There were always 6-8 coffee boys on the floor (this was an outdoor tented courtyard of maybe 50 tables--half occupied with 2-3 people) and there was always chaos and confusion. But it was part of the charm really.

I walked the beach looking for sea-glass and finding washed up pieces of bleached out coral. We could look out on the gulf and see Israel, and the distant lights of Egypt. Oil tankers came and went from the gulf. Muezzins called as the Jordanian flag fluttered in the ocean breeze. It was a lovely week. Every now and then we ached a little for Egypt, to DO something like walking in Jerusalem, hiking in Petra or climbing a red sand dune. But not too often :)

It was a grand week of doing nothing--relaxing. It was also our 11th wedding anniversary and 23 years together...more than half our lives.
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