Tip #417: Arrival in Amman

“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it. ” John Steinbeck

I am at the Intercontinental Hotel in Amman. The view out of my 7th floor window is extraordinary. As far as the eye can see, there are stone buildings so close together you can’t see any roads or paths. When I started writing this, I could hear a loud call to prayer. My guess is that call will be a keen memory of Amman, just as all of the honking will be for Lagos.

You know when I talked about needing to have my luggage “get off with me in Amsterdam?” Well, it did, but I never picked it up. I was so tired and so unused to changing airlines that it never occurred to me to go to baggage to claim it and then check in at Royal Jordan. So, guess what? I have no luggage. If I’m very lucky, it will arrive sometime tomorrow. If I’m partially lucky, it will arrive late on Saturday.

First, I’m going to be very sick of these two outfits I have, which I will have to wash in the sink. Second, all of my training supplies are in those two bags- and the five day training program starts on Sunday. I feel so stupid, but I will certainly never forget this if there ever is a next time. Good grief!

Arrival at the airport was so different from arriving in Nigeria. First, we had to bring our carryon materials (in my case, my bulging purse and small suitcase) to be scanned. I didn’t have to take my laptop out nor was I scanned.

Then I went directly to the place marked to get my visa where there was absolutely no line and one in front of me. When the agent asked for 20 for the visa, I tried to give him US dollars, but he made me go convert my money into dinar (1 dinar = .70 USD).  Then I went right back and paid to get my visa. Next, there was a place called Customs, but none of the three men there wanted to look at any documents. So out to luggage, where, as I wrote earlier, I had nothing to pick up.

You know, it occurred to me that in the States, when you travel and change air lines, they just transfer your luggage for you. I think that is why it never crossed my mind to go get my luggage. But, in this case, I had two different tickets, so there would have been no way for KLM to know where my luggage should go.

I checked on line earlier this morning (1 a.m.- almost 12 hours ago! And found that there won’t be another flight from Amsterdam to Amman until Saturday, arriving at 10:30 p.m. as I did. I am hoping Mohammed (who picked me up at the airport and is one of three drivers we will use) will take me there to get my materials.

I washed all my clothing in the sink with hand soap. This morning, everything was very damp. Luckily, the hair dryer is very hot, so I managed to get most of the items to a mildly damp state so I could wear them.

I went down for breakfast. I had thought the buffet at Southern Sun in Lagos was spectacular. This definitely trumped that! Imagine long tables in a huge room- covering an entire three sides. Breads, rolls and sweet rolls; ham! An omelet chef (who made a terrific omelet!), yogurts, cheeses, fresh vegetables, every type of fruit you can imagine, six types of juices, hot foods, granolas and cereals- on and on. Since I was really hungry when I went to bed, I was very hungry when I got there. Oh, and smoked salmon as well as all sorts of cold cut meats. Extraordinary!

Cassie plans to take me to Mecca Mall by taxi to see if we can find me some items of clothing to get me through to Saturday night. She had called Lina, who lives in Jordan, to see if she would be willing to pick us up and take us. Apparently, she took Cassie to a lounge last night (where people smoked cigarettes, cigars and hookahs!) to listen to music. They had a late night. Lina, who is divorced and has one child, lives with her parents. Lina is probably about 37 years old, but her parents were very upset about her going out and coming in late- so it almost sounded as if Lina was “grounded.”

Cassie had to show me how to use the phone they have given me for the duration of my stay. I couldn’t figure out how to unlock it.  We practiced having me call her and having her call me, to make sure I knew what to do!

They do smoke here, although there are non-smoking sections. The lobby is enormous, with many seating areas with couches and exquisite pillows, as well as small tables.

Cassie told me that Jordan has 6 million people- and 3 million of them live here in Amman!

As we drove to the hotel, I noticed very unique architecture- quite modernist- including a gargantuan hotel and a bridge. Cassie said that it was safe to walk, just not walker -friendly in terms of sidewalks. When and if I go for a stroll (in 28 days, that should be likely!) I’ll take some photos. The stores and buildings here only occasionally have English next to the Arabic- as opposed to Lagos, where English was everywhere.

Pizza is on the menu here at the hotel and I noticed more than one pizza place, so I’m hoping that my pizza example in the train the trainer will be fine.

I probably haven’t mentioned this about my experience at the Lagos airport when I was going to leave. When I first got there, with ALL my luggage, a porter came to assist me. We got in a terribly long line and after waiting for five minutes, he told me that we could arrange to go through more quickly in another location. He went to check then came back and told me it would cost 3500 N. I really don’t know if it was a bribe, if he pocketed any of it- but it certainly worked. The security folks had me open each suitcase and they went through everything by hand. My kites and training toys created a number of questions!

The other thing- at both the Lagos and Amsterdam airports (going to Jordan, not going to Nigeria) they screen your luggage again for you to get into the boarding area, where they pat you down. A strange feeling, to say the least.  At the Lagos airport, they pat you down everywhere, front and back. To go to Jordan, the woman (they use women for women and men to pat down men) patted me down on my front and didn’t go below the waist.

And at both the Lagos and Amman hotels, they security- check the car’s contents. However, at the Intercontinental Hotel here in Amman, you and whatever you are carrying have to also go through screening to simply get into the lobby.

It’s almost time to meet Cassie to convert money (actually use an ATM to draw out some of the travel advance they wired to my account- because it comes out as dinars) and go shopping. However, it is absolutely pouring outside (and of course my raincoat is in my luggage). Here’s hoping someone has a big umbrella.

May your learning be sweet.


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