10th September 2022: Arriving is tough {Jordan, September 2022}

Officially named the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan | Al-Mamlakah al-’Urdunniyyah Al-Hāshimiy [ٱلْمَمْلَكَةُ ٱلْأُرْدُنِيَّةُ ٱلْهَاشِمِيَّةُ], Jordan | Al-ʾUrdunn [ٱلْأُرْدُن] is located in the Middle East. It has limits with the Dead Sea, Israel / Palestine Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and it has a tiny connection to the Red Sea in the south. Due to its location, it is a semi-arid country, with relatively little rainfall, especially the further away from the Mediterranean. Today, it is an Arab nation, but it has been inhabited from the Palaeolithic – it has been Egyptian, Moabite, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Roman, Nabataean and finally Islamic. In recent times, Jordan belonged to the Ottoman Empire, Britain, and it became independent in 1946, being a Parliamentary Monarchy that gives great power to the King (currently Abdullah II). Even though Jordan was left largely unscathed during the Arab Spring (2011), making it one of the most stable countries in the area, it was hit by terrorism in 2005. Al-Qaeda bombed three hotel lobbies, which crippled the tourism industry, which is one of the most important in Jordan.

It is probably the Nabataean period the one that has left the most unique cultural assets, and tourist sites. The Nabataean were nomadic Arabs that setted down and mastered the art of stone carving, creating the city of Petra as their capital. Petra is a Unesco World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and possibly the most visited place in the country.

As of September 2022, in order to enter Jordan, you need to fill in a document declaring that if you get Covid you or your insurance will pay for any health cost, including hospitalisation or isolation / quarantine. That meant that unfortunately we could not check in online for the flight, as the air line – Royal Jordanian in this instance – had to check that declaration before issuing the boarding passes. That required being at the airport with a three hour margin, maybe a bit more. That made the whole thing a bit extra tiring (total travel time must have been about 12 hours). Fortunately, it went smoothly, we boarded without issues and took off on time.

The flight to Queen Alia International Airport in Amman | ʻAmmān [عَمَّان], the capital of Jordan, took about 4h30min (and plane food has not got any better since 2019). We landed late in the evening, and that was when the stress started off. There was a tourist guide / mediator / whatever waiting for us, with the name of the group my parents had booked for the trip. He gave us instructions which ended up being… “hand over your passport to this policeman and wait by luggage retrieval for your stamped passport, that I shall bring”. Okay, that was creepy, and I was more than a bit on the uncomfortable side until I had mine back.

Then we had about an hour bus ride and we reached the Amman hotel by midnight. The hotel X-rayed our luggage and bags as an anti-terrorism measure, and checked us in… weirdly. Apparently the tour operator had given names and reserved rooms but… there were no rooms associated to the names so my parents and my sibling and I ended up on different floors. Oh and even if dinner was included, they had already closed the kitchen so they gave us boxed dinner with sandwiches and salads. Fortunately though, they also gave us water and some complimentary bottles, which was handy. I wish I could tell you that I slept by the dead, but I was to wound up to do more than snooze a little.