Prefacing statement #1: Sorry we haven't posted in a while. In addition to my (Jason) laziness, our blog hosts (blogspot.com) have been confusing me by changing up their offerings every other day. As savvy as I am when it comes to technology, I won't try to explain in (to avoid confusing you, you see).
Prefacing statement #2: Notice the title of this blog is not question. It is a statement. My job is to tell about our Christmas Vacation from the negative perspective. This should be a long post.
From Aqaba to Petra:
When we arrived in Aqaba in southern Jordan, we were expecting to be able to catch a taxi to the bus station and a bus to Petra, as it says we can do it our handy-dandy guidebook. Unfortunately, the night before it had snowed in the Jordanian desert (for the first time since 2002 or 2003, depending on who you asked). Therefore, the highway was closed and the buses weren't able to come from Petra to Aqaba in order to take all of us weary travellers back to Petra.
The local taxi drivers immediately seized this as an opportunity to rip us off. Many surrounded us, and began to kindly explain that they had a (brother, uncle, nephew, cousin) who (lived, worked, travelled through) Petra and told them that the buses would not be running until (that afternoon, that evening, tomorrow, 2009) and they would gladly take us for (50JD, 45JD, 30JD, ok ok, 25JD but I'll spend that much on gas). As much as we appreciated their help, we were not really prepared to spend that much to get to Petra, so we waited.
I was the only one of the five of us (Hannah, Sarah and I met up with two nice Danish ladies and we were sticking together) who spoke enough Arabic to find out what was going on. So as I queried the locals, the taxi drivers kept pouncing on Sarah and Hannah, trying to get them to agree to take a taxi.
Finally, a man agreed to take us in his bus to Petra for 5jd each. This is a higher than usual price, but I agreed because I was weary and not being careful. (Don't let this happen to you). The taxi drivers all started telling us that this was a bad man and that he wouldn't take us to Petra. In order to pre-empt such a move by him, we refused to pay him until we reached our destination. This resulted in much shouting and probably some cursing in Arabic, I really don't know very many Arabic curse words, so they were coming from him.
We drove for about 3 hours, sometimes through the snow, sometimes on the shoulder, sometimes on the wrong side of the road (better to get around the 18-wheelers stuck on our side of the road), sometimes on the shoulder of the wrong side of the road (better to avoid oncoming traffic). Eventually we arrived in Ma'an, which is not the same thing as Petra, nor is it even that close. The bus driver told us to get off, get on the bus for Petra, which was already full to overflowing. He asked me to pay him, and the bus driver would take me to Petra for free. I obstinately refused, citing the fact that he had promised to take us to Petra and did not. In fact, I refused so obstinately, that a crowd gathered to watch the shouting match, and a policeman came to find out what all the trouble was about. Eventually, after I had confirmed that the bus was indeed going to Petra, we paid the man and prepared to leave.
Unfortunately, the other people on the bus knew what had gone down, and that the bus drivers were getting enough money from the foreigners to pay for the whole trip for everyone in the bus. They refused to pay the driver, all disembarked, and left us sitting on the bus, 5jd poorer, waiting for the bus to refill with people. To make an extremely long story slightly less long, we left the bus station 3 times, only to return each time. We changed buses twice until we finally ended up on a bus that took us to Petra.
Since this story is already extremely long, you'll have to check back later in the week to hear the other stories of woe, otherwise, the scle won't accomplish anything today.