Day 15: Amman, Jordan

Day 15: Friday, 1 May 2020 – Amman, Jordan (31.9539° N, 35.9106° E) (459 Covid-19 cases & 8 deaths in Jordan as of today…alas, no word on the number of cases or deaths among the 1.4+ million Syrian refugees amassed along its northern border!)

First off…We missed it! Happy belated birthday to Rome. You are 2,773 years young. The Eternal City brings hope…and happiness every time we visit it. So, Happy Birthday Roma, whose motto most surely must be: This too shall pass…

So, May 1st…May Day. To the the non-North American world it means the real labor day, a glorious international celebration of what we all are–workers. And not just a lip service perfunctory day at the end of a long weekend that signals the end of commercial summertime and the beginning of a new school year…or football season! But I again regress…

We have had a few issues over the years traveling internationally on May Day, as we are wont to do. Everything is mostly closed everywhere or operating on skelton staffs. Not a good day for doing stuff really; other than walking about and eating. But definitely not an optimal day in which to lay your grand strategic linchpin of travel plans on; that is, not a good day from scavenging on The Global Scavenger Hunt.

I recall several such days in a few destinations over the years. One in 2009, with our teams in Istanbul doing their level best to avoid the historic Taksim Square area…where thousands upon thousands of united workers had gathered to celebrate (and a few violently to protest) their day-off and their happiness/unhappiness with their current labor arrangements. I think the word riot comes to mind. But having lived through the extended racial riots of Detroit in 1967 and the Rodney King/LA riots of 1992, I would actually say it was more akin to a Super Bowl winning fan street party–say like how the the wacko 49ers fans celebrated in San Francisco after their 1982 victory! So, on my personal experience riot scale, 2009 Istanbul, ranked a lowly two. Another time here, in 2011, we actually had a mid-morning flight to catch (it was a good day to transition between destinations, because as I mentioned, nothing is really open) but our timing was iffy leaving the hotel, with it being in the center of maybe another riot scale two, but also with all the associated roads and major arteries closed. So, I had to set up a Beatles-style VIP get away; hiring a few black SUV’s to get us to IST both timely and safely. We all checked out and met in the hotel lobby at our designated time for our somewhat anxiety-filled exit when the hotel’s security–replete with sharp blue suit coats, earpieces and walkie-talkies–hurriedy escorted us down to the bowels of the hotel and a secure back service entrance where we all piled into a few awaiting vehicles. Together our vehicles sped in close convoy formation to the the airport through a lot of urban craziness. Marchers, signs, whistles, personnel carriers, cops in riot gear, and kites. I remember the high-flying colorful kites for some reason? Of course, we all made it, but then, because we were so freakin’ efficient–and there was maybe a tad too much anticipated friction time built into our schedule by the hotel security staff–that we had three hours to kill in IST departure terminal. That’s a lot of pretzels and lokum (Turkish delight) to eat, and a lot of guilt-buying terminal time to kill. Alas, all went without incident.

Today’s memory takes place though here in Jordan, and is courtesy of Karen, a 2019 member of the MargoPolos:

“One of the most interesting, frustrating, but ultimately exciting aspects of the Global Scavenger Hunt is because you don’t know where you are going, you can’t prepare sufficiently, you basically learn and figure logistics on the spot, though the scavengers point you to the most important sites, sights and experiences.

So when we arrived in Amman, Jordan, and one of the scavenges was to go to Petra, I tried to recreate a powerful image I had seen of Petra at night, with people with candles. I walked (into) Petra for the night event. The walking proved the most exciting part. The actual event was quite disappointing – it ended half-hour after I arrived and consisted of some singing, and I only got a few photographs that I cared about. But staying over meant that I was able to go back to Petra at about 6 am – basically having this extraordinary place almost to myself. I had the most amazing time – hiking up to the monastery, and really lingering over details, and having time to tour the new archeological museum before getting back on the bus.”

Karen at Petra

Shepherd Boy w/ flock

We LOVE Petra

Delinquency in action

Floating in the Dead Sea…Whose selfie stick is that?

Pamela with new friends in Amman

2010’s 100% Bajan’s Dead Sea Mud Bath…

Regrets, I have few…but too few to mention. But I do have few travel regrets…and one took place here in 2010, when we brought our teams to Jordan. While they were all out and about, I mulled over going to Damascus, Syria–a straight shot two and a half hour drive north. I had not been there and the allure of finally seeing Umayyad & Sayyidah Ruqayya mosques and visiting the ancient souks, was very compelling. I had a car and driver and the passage secured for a two day visit, but at the last minute, the recent Icelandic volcano eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull, had me reconsider as I had a lot of issues to tend to–we were flying to Vienna from Amman and then yes, actually to Iceland! So I cancelled. I regret it not going to Syria badly, as we all know what began a few months later–The deadly and still ongoing Syrian Civil War that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions more. Old Damascus is no more.

Off to another pivot destination…a quick stopover in Istanbul.

I think we are all getting tired of winning! 

Stay safe and well. Till tomorrow…

Please send any memories you want us to post to ringmaster (at) globalscavengerhunt (dot) com