I never thought that I would one day sleep at the airport, it sounds like a dreadful thing to do. I mean, a layover that is more than 2 hours is bad enough. Now imagine having to sleep at the airport, where do you even start? Do just pull out your inflatable bed or sleeping bag? I’ve heard a lot of horrific tales of people who slept at the airport and I thought they were just deranged.
I had to make a crucial decision based on two options.
Option 1 was to book an earlier flight, one that will land in Amman the capital of Jordan at night and then book a hotel for the night. But the challenge would be that there is only one bus that leaves Amman daily going to Petra. And the worst part is it leaves at 6 am. This would mean that I need to wake up at 3;30 am to bath and pack my luggage, then take a taxi for an hour to the bus station. If you’ve been reading my previous posts, I’m pretty sure that by now you know that I’m an early bird so this option was not gonna work for me.
Option 2 was to book an evening flight, one that would arrive in Jordan in the morning and then just hang around the airport until 05;00 am. Then I would just take a taxi to the bus terminal. This sounds pretty simple but the challenge is the flight lands at 01:00 so that means I’ll have to hang around the airport for four hours. At that time, no restaurants are open, so I’ll just have to sit on those cold steel chairs at the arrival section.
It’s 01:00 and I just landed at Amman in Jordan. After passing through customs, I scan the airport thoroughly for a good spot because I’ve opted for option 2. And to my surprise, most benches are occupied by travelers who are sleeping with their faces covered with their jackets. So I just join in, pull out a blanket I got in flight, set my alarm and then dossed off. Not the most comfortable sleep, but well it was way better than waking up in the morning.
At 05:15, I’m starting to panic because the Uber I’ve requested 15 minutes ago has not yet arrived. I’m in constant communication with the driver who doesn’t seem to find me. I am starting to think of taking one of the expensive airport taxis just so that I don’t miss my bus. Eventually he finds me, a decent old man. He helps put my luggage in the car boot and opens the passenger door for me. As soon as he closes his door, a police officer shows up next to him and they start talking in Arabic. He then hands the officer his driver’s licence and drives off. He starts talking to himself as he gets more and more nervous. I observe without saying a word. Outside the airport, he pulls aside and my blood stars to boil. We patiently wait for the officers who showed up 15 minutes later only to give him a fine together with his driver’s licence because Uber is prohibited at the airport.
After a 4 hour bus drive, I step out shielding my eyes against the dazzling sunshine. The bus driver didn’t stop in front of the hotel I had book although we passed right at the door. He claims that it’s prohibited and he can only stop at the main bus stop. I’m kinda excited though because I’m over the pressure of asking around for directions to my hotel. I start the short uphill walk to my hotel only to find that it’s just everything I never wished for. The room has brown curtain, suggesting that they have never been washed. The bedding sheet was once white and there is a stack of 8 mattresses on the one side. The shower just killed my soul, the shower head was covered with green mold, and stacks of black mold were just chilling on the floor corners. There was just no way I’m gonna step inside there. Luckily the toilet was clean. But the hotel owner was super nice. He probably saw the look on my face (even though I tried so hard to put on a brave face), then offered me breakfast which was not included on the first day. I only had 2 cups of coffee but couldn’t bring myself into eating the food due to lack of hygiene I was seeing.
I desperately wanted another hotel, but they were fully booked. So as tired as I was, I took a 30 minutes walk to Petra, one of the new Seven Wonders of the world. I have written a blog just about it where I share everything you need to know about Petra.
Although I was on a tight budget (because Jordan is quiet expensive), I had to add another expense which was buying bottled water to bath on the basin. Then I laid the 2 blankets that I had taken in flight on the bed and tucked myself in them and finally dosed off. The following day I had booked a tour at the hotel to Wadi Rum to go spend a night in the desert. While in bed, looking at the stack of mattresses across my bed, a thought crossed my mind “If the hotel lacks hygiene, imagine how bad the desert experience will be. You have managed to fall asleep, stay in bed until you checkout tomorrow.” I didn’t dispute the thought, but submissively gave in. It was at that time when I started to be homesick. I started looking for flights out of Jordan going home or to anywhere in the world but there was none that day. I just didn’t wanna be in the hotel anymore. What gave me comfort was a traveler’s group on Facebook when they gave me advice on how to overcome the homesick feeling which they regarded as pretty normal.
Checking out was such a relief. I’m going to spend my last night in a bedouin camp. Upon arrival, it was love at first sight. Instead of walking into a hotel lobby, I walked in to the beautiful black with white stripes beit shar tents nestled in the rocks of Little Petra. The staff was so friendly and embraced me as one of their own. After spending the day in a nearby desert called Wadi Aqaba, we (staff and other guests) sat on the floor inside the main dinig hall to enjoy tea and a good laugh.
We learn every day and from all our experiences, be they good or bad. What I took home from the whole experience was how a simple thing like a bad hotel experience almost made me cancel the remaining 10 days of my 30 days adventure. How many times do we quit jobs, businesses, relationships even friendships based on one unfortunate occurrence? Nobody is exempt from the trials of life (not even travelers), but everyone can always find something positive in everything, even in the worst of times.
I’ll let the pictures to do the talking now, As you know, they say a thousand words.