You Big Ferry

Trip Start Jul 25, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Jordan  ,
Wednesday, September 20, 2006

After a couple of days in Petra, I caught a couple of mini-buses to Aqaba on the Red Sea coast. This was one of those days when travel kicks you in the ass, and challenges your preconceptions. The bus from Wadi Rum to Ma'an was no problem. Once in Ma'an, I needed to buy a ticket to Aqaba. The ticket seller, dressed in western clothes, blatantly and cheerfully ripped me off. Fine, ok. My bag counts as a separate person even though it is squeezed into the back trunk? Fine. Just give me my ticket. But then after we agreed upon an already inflated price, easily twice as much as any local (who had told me the real price), he had no change. He then told me he would keep the rest as baksheesh (a tip). I got angry, called him a bad man, called him a thief, said he gave Jordan a bad name. He laughed and walked away.

I noticed him talking to the bus driver, a frankly somewhat frightening looking man, large, wild bearded, scowling, and wearing robes and a Muslim prayer cap. The ticket seller seemed to point at me and laugh. The driver just looked angry. Eventually the driver got on the bus, where I sat close to him, having paid yet another hidden premium for a front seat, and we started off. Despite driving some the most spectacular and arid scenery I had ever seen, it passed mostly unseen as I seemed to be stuck in a angry funk, unable to let go of the ticket seller and his actions. I was getting used to this by this point, the double standard of traveling and foreigner prices, but his attitude had infuriated me. Then I noticed the driver reaching into his own pocket, which he then proceeded to take out not only the change I was due, but almost the entire cost of the fare. He spoke no English, but reached over, gave me the money, and continued driving. As far as I can figure out, he was arguing with the ticket seller over his actions, and reimbursed me from his own pocket. The scary man was the good man. Once again, I was humbled by the everyday kindness of strangers.

Aqaba was a quick stop, I sprung for a room with air-conditioning, ate some very good cashews and caught the ferry to Nuweiba, Egypt. The ferry was chaos, but after many trips up and down various stairs to various offices, a ticket was bought, a passport was stamped, a departure tax was paid, and an ass was plopped into a seat. I had been told I needed to be at the ferry no later than 10:00 am for a 1:00 pm sailing. It left at 5:30 pm. The unwritten rule of traveling - hurry up and wait.
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