Sunday, July 3, 2011

Aqaba take two: “does anyone have an appropriate zipper?”

This last weekend the gang and I went to Aqaba in celebration of the fourth of July. On our way there, at one of the rest stops, a couple of us were sitting on some steps. A few moments later a bunch of Asians arrived in what would seem as the oriental express. They began taking pictures of themselves in front of the store of the steps we were sitting on. As they were leaving, a man walked up to Jer Bear with his camera. Jer assumed that he wanted him to take a picture for them, but that immediately changed as the man put his arm around Jer. This created a ripple effect as more Asians started jumping into the picture of this man and three white people sitting on the steps. A lady wrapped her arms around my neck and shoulder rather tightly for the picture. I did not like that.

 After a long, uncomfortable bus ride to Aqaba we were dropped off at our hotel Aquamarina. I think the best way to describe the quality of this hotel would be to say that when we arrived there were no numbers on the corresponding doors, so they had to show us what room was ours. I believe that they began gluing them on after we arrived.

We set off to the beach. This is the same beach where I made the camel guy mad, so I was hoping that he wouldn’t make his presence known. After about a half an hour sitting on the beach that isn’t appropriate for girls to get into the water, I wanted to go to the other, touristy beach. I decided to go shopping before we were going to head out. I couldn’t find the store that I had previously seen during our last trip that I had made a mental note of going to. Instead, I went to the Dream Mall. This place was less like a dream and more like a nightmare. It was the weirdest mall I have been to. It was small, and as I walked in, there was no one in it. I couldn’t see anyone. There was no noise and the few stores inside didn’t have anyone working in them. I walked up the escalator that was not working to check out some clothing stores that looked the least Arab. (stores selling more than just hijabs etc.) None of the clothes really sparked my interest and I used the elevator to go up to the next floor. While in the elevator, which was glass, allowing me to see the rest of the mall, a man finally made himself known. He watched me go from one floor to the next as I tried to compose myself from being startled at his sudden presence. The floor I arrived at turned out not to be a part of the mall, but offices. I found the stairs and made my way down to the main floor. From there I finally saw a couple more employees. It was pretty sketchy and creepy to say the least. Instead I went to some stores on the street and ended up buying some flip flops and a fitted sheet for my bed. I cannot find fitted sheets in the balid to safe my life and for some reason I don’t have flip-flops. So I was pleased with my purchases.

The south beach is cleaner and more tourists hang out there. We set up camp and chilled in the water for a little bit. The bottom of the shore is covered with sharp rocks and there was no sand as we went further out, so we didn’t stay in the water long. Instead, we relaxed on the beach. That night, we watched the sun set over Israel.

We went to dinner that night at the same restaurant we had gone to for lunch that same day. It was probably one of the best restaurants I have been to in a while. When we got our bill, Annie realized that she didn’t have her wallet with her. This is where the night got interesting. We couldn’t find it anywhere and it wasn’t in the bathroom where she possibly could have left it. The manager and employees of the restaurant were very helpful. Annie and I watched the camera footage of the restaurant while we were there. We saw Annie enter the bathroom with her wallet and leave without it. Then we saw two sketchy girls enter the bathroom about twenty minutes later. We couldn’t tell if they had the wallet because they had huge purses with them.  But there were the only girls to enter the bathroom for the rest of the night so we know that they are the thieves!

With the videos in hand, Annie, Jer, and I went to the police station. I don’t even know how to explain this situation as accurately and amazingly hilarious as it was. Annie talked with the tourist police as Jer and I just sat there and made an occasional joke. The policeman seemed pretty bored because we quickly became the case to be in the know about as men would come in and out giving their two cents about the situation. One of the best quotes of the night was when Annie was describing the wallet. She didn’t know the word for zipper. After a quick look at her pants she asked us “does anyone have an appropriate zipper?” Jer promptly obliged with the zipper on his backpack, which was followed by our laughter. They asked her a bunch of questions. She got a marriage proposal. They got my information as well. It was a pretty big ordeal getting through the spelling and pronunciation of my name. I was a witness! I’m not gonna lie, I felt pretty cool.  It took them forever to write her statement and get things moving along. We missed any chance we had of finding the girls. I thought it was cute that one of the employees of the restaurant rode around on his bike looking for them. Precious. The policemen seemed to be pretty excited and into the case until this old guy came in and basically sucked any enthusiasm left. After that we could see that it was basically going nowhere. We didn’t leave until about two in the morning. We were super tired which made everything ten times funnier. We were asked to come back around ten the next day, which we did. After a couple more hours of sitting around Jer and I left. It was a pretty unforgettable experience.

Jer and I walked back to our hotel and we checked out and put our things on the bus. The rest of the people on the bus were going to go look at an aquarium or something and then go on a yacht where they would be dancing to obnoxiously loud Arab music, so we usually peace out on those events. Instead, we went snorkeling. Guides from the snorkeling place came and picked us up at our hotel and took us to the beach. I tried on the flippers to find the right size for me, and when I asked for smaller ones, they looked at me like I was crazy and said that the ones I had were the smallest that they had. The guy then gave me the ones that were the next size up and said that I should use those ones. I was a little confused by that but it worked out ok. They told us where we could go on the shore and let us do our own thing, which I wasn’t expecting. So that was nice.

The ocean kinda freaks me out. I don’t like the unknown and unpredictability of the ocean. And come to think of it, I def don’t like the known and predictable things about the ocean too. The idea of being able to breath under water and being in the presence of things that live under the water makes me nervous. Nevertheless, I tried snorkeling anyway. It wasn’t too bad. I had a few mini panic attacks. I felt like I couldn’t breathe a couple times and I’d resurface from the water. I saw a lot fish that I’ve seen in pictures and learned about throughout school. There was one fish that freaked me out. It looked like a long stick and it moved rather fast. I didn’t like that one too much. It was a beautiful array of colors and textures under the water. I swam through a couple schools of fish. I also saw a jelly fish! That I quickly swam away from. I’m not sure if I’m ready for diving deep underwater anytime soon or that my negatives thoughts of life underwater are completely gone, but this was a good start. I’ve heard that Aqaba is one of the best places to go diving and snorkeling, so I’m glad I got to experience it there.  Although, I wish that I had had an underwater camera. After snorkeling, I laid out tanning for the rest of the day in my swimming suit! It was marvelous. I finished the day with a delicious sharme sitting in a shaded park. Aqaba once again has been good to me.