Friday, March 8, 2013

Aqaba

A curious place. Jordan's only port. Dry and hot all around. Great hills and mountains to surround the area. Mostly inaccessible. Small towns south of Karak all the way to Aqaba. I feel bad for the city. It tries to do well. It capitalizes on being a resort area and yet it is found wanting. It is amazing that to the northwest is Israel, just sound of that is Egypt, we are in the northeast corner, and Saudi Arabia is eight miles away.

Aqaba tries to do the right right. It developed its city more or less along grid work of streets, which is much more navigable than any other place in Jordan. The layout still isn't quite right as you can't often take a left or right turn onto a major street. You have to connect with minor streets or go out of your way to turn around. Maybe the designers fashioned it this way.

The city engineers have done a few things right. They created a pedestrian walkway lined with trees and flowering bushes. It looks rather nice with a few street lights to illuminate one's pathway. Palm tree lined road dividers make the place look inviting. Access to main walking paths as pedestrians is still not worked out.

It is dry and hot. It is quite sandy and desert-like even though it is next to the sea. A few nice hotels set all all-inclusive clubs. Perhaps the shopping inside has greater diversity than the shops in the downtown area. The residential areas look poor, but neighborly. You can tell neighbors know each other and know what is going on with one another. A few wealthy enclaves are set up as well, but they are not very separate from the poorer areas.

The place looks quite Arab, like an extension of Amman. They are trying to do well. Inspirational slogans appear on flags and dot the area. It is a city that wants to grow and prosper. I want that for them too. It has potential to become a nice resort area. I'm sold on music, the arts, diversified restaurants, and civic functions. Maybe there are festivals in the city to attract tourists. I hope so.

I wonder how different the people are from the rest of Jordan. The average merchant seems to have the same types of anxieties. "Welcome," means "come into my store and give me your money." I heard three of them say that bluntly. Cab drivers can see me step out of my car and they still ask me if they can give me a ride somewhere. I perplex them when I ask if I can have a ride to my car. They ask where it is and I point. At least one boy was honest to me and said, "Give me your money," but it was not a hold up. People see that I am not like them and they think I have disposable wealth.

It hurts my head to see the way people have to live. I don't have an adequate response to it. At the same time, I get bothered by the persistence of merchants. They emit desperation. They drive me away even before I have a chance to approach. They make me become a person who just walks by without even acknowledging them. I don't like that.

There's positive and negative here, but I think the greatest liability for a place like Jordan is that they don't get rain. Water gives life and creates beauty. I like beauty.


To see photos of our trip, click on the link below:

1. Pics of Disi and Wadi Rum
2. Pics of Aqaba
2. Pics of the Teeth of Camels

2 comments:

  1. I'm glad that you made it to Aqaba! That was my first stop in Jordan; I was in Eilat and I literally walked across the border, which was very weird and wonderful. Talk about hot, it was late May, early June - blazing.

    I was only there overnight and did not see too much of the town. My hosts put me up at the very swanky Intercontinental Hotel on the beach, which was lovely. After the crowded, crazy, touristy overdone style of neighboring Eilat, I welcomed the peace of simply resting on the quiet beach.

    And in both Eilat and Aqaba, I was so intrigued by the fact that I was in one country, and could truly see three others!

    Oddly enough, the Red Sea did not part one centimeter for me! :-) Sorry, a terrible attempt at humor!

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    Replies
    1. I decided to come here while the heat was not oppressive. It is about 82 today. I can't imagine it here any later than this.

      I've seen the Intercontinental. It looks great and has terrific views = probably good restaurants as well. I'm at the Mina. I don't even know what breakfast was supposed to be. It looked odd. The Intercontinental seems like an all-inclusive. There is a restful quality about this place. The Friday markets were jammed, but I wasn't interested in buying anything = to the dismay of merchants.

      Yes, I relate to your comment about seeing three others. Quite cool.

      Did your staff, though, turn into a serpent?

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