Sunday, July 3, 2011

Aqaba took me for a ride

After spending some time with my cousin and his lovely wife in Aqaba, he insisted on taking me to my hotel and instead took me to a beach between the South Beach and the city. I figured the South Beach according to the locals was the same beach that my friends and I had been on just a month prior. I was clearly mistaken!

As I walked the beach, there were makeshift tents lining the shore with families hiding from the sun and busily talking and eating. I could not believe how many people were situated on this beach and walked for half an hour toward what I thought was our portion of the same beach. The further I walked, the more obvious it was that I was not going to find my friends and that I was in fact 1 kilometer away from correct beach and several kilometers away from the city.

In the beginning of my searching, I had been trying to figure out where I was and where the others were and hadn't let myself get lost in the scenery of the interesting beach scene. It was really breath-taking to watch the sunset on all of these beach dwellers and me. I took videos on my little camera of the waves, the rocks on the beach and the sunset. I tried to make the most of the situation given I was lost and completely alone on a crowded and very dirty beach. The people that I passed asked me where I was from. I said Amman and they gave me a look that said, "clearly you are from Amman! That explains your attire and your current situation." As a side note, I wasn't wearing anything provocative, just some capris that went to my calves,a t-shirt and flip flops.

As the night ensued, I knew that I needed to get back to the city immediately, and went back to the Baraccuda hotel that was situated on the beach to hail a cab. When I got there, I asked the Egyptian attendants if they could hail a cab for me, so they made a quick call and told me that a cab would arrive in 5 minutes. FALSE! I sat and waited for about half an hour until the attendant led me over to the cab. Several fears always enter my mind at night and sitting idly for half an hour gave my thoughts plenty of time to be unbridled and scare me half to death. The cab driver did indeed ask for 4JD which I was reluctant to pay, but I was exhausted and did not want to fight too much. I made a commotion for about 20 minutes and then just looked at him and told him that I didn't want any trouble and that he better take me EXACTLY where I wanted to go. When I arrived at the lovely restaurant, I graciously thanked the driver for the ride and waited for my friends to arrive. I was relieved that I had arrived in one piece and thought for sure that I would not have any more mishaps for the rest of the night. Little did I know what would ensue...

During my time in Jordan, I have become a very smart traveler despite myself. I take a minimal amount of money whenever possible, leave all valuable cards and IDs stashed away and take the bare necessities wherever I go. This proved very beneficial when I realized after dinner that I had lost my wallet. Inside was my NIKON COOLPIX camera (which I loved and adored), a 1 GB memory card for it, 10 JDs and my driver's license. Now, realistically, this sucked and I would have preferred not to have lost my beloved purple camera, but given that I did, I am grateful that I lost the lesser things in life.

After discovering that my wallet was lost, I scoured the area and let our waiter know. He immediately took me down to a very large man at the front desk who escorted me to the camera and surveillance room above the restaurant. I was absolutely shocked that they had one at all, but was even more impressed when I saw its complex capabilities.

We pinpointed when I went to the bathroom, when I left my wallet in the bathroom AND who had stolen my wallet. Two unsavory young women walked into the one-person bathroom together and were in there for a LONG time. They were the only two individuals who had entered the bathroom since I had left my wallet and were the last women in the restaurant. It was clear to everyone that these two women took it. My friend Kaiti came up and joined me in the surveillance room and looked through the videos and then another friend, Jeremy also joined us. While we were pinpointing the women who had taken the wallet, Jeremy and Kaiti were mesmerized by a large brown cockroach who weaseled his way around the door and made it's way under the couch that they were sitting on.

After we videotaped all of the scenes from the video recorder to a little camera, we were directed to go to the police and report the crime. As soon as they said that, I knew I would never see my cute little camera again. A waiter from the restaurant volunteered to ride his bike up and down the beach and look for the girls. It was a kind gesture and I thanked him for his efforts.

The three of us made our way to the police station and asked a few people for directions along the way. When we entered the complex, we explained the situation to a police officer who called the manager of the restaurant and had him explain the scene to him. The officers were very helpful in explaining what action we should take and helped me by writing a police report for me. Then, they read it over to me to ensure that I understood the content before I signed. The police officers were eager to help us in any way that they could and were enthusiastic that they would do their best to find my ID and camera. About 100 cigarettes and 4 1/2 hours later, we left the police station and staggered our way back to the hotel at 3:00AM. It was an absolutely exhausting ordeal and continued the following morning when I returned at 10AM to finish up paperwork. After another two hours, I was without a group and without a plan for 6 hours in Aqaba. It was extremely hot, I had no spare clothing or shoes... Considering this, I used the only thing that I had, money. I went shopping at a deserted mall that was really creepy, window shopped at a few boutiques and walked the street until I was completely exhausted.

At that point, I broke down and purchased a Bario and water and sat in a public area in the shade and drank them. Our tour's bus came through around 4:30, so I switched out my shoes and put my heavy shopping trophies on the bus and took my camera for a spin on the beach. I trekked out the beach and put my feet in the water and sat on a rock away from the people. It was nice to sit there... Out of no where, I saw this beautiful Arab man with a canon SLR taking pictures near the dock. I watched him for about 15 minutes and then followed suit and pulled out my camera and went on my merry way taking pictures along the beach. This is the point when I acquired a tall and skinny stalker. It was a little unnerving to me, but it definitely wasn't the first time that this has happened to me, so I dealt with it by being vigilant. I kept my distance and did my best to lose him, which I eventually did.
I was relieved when I was about to meet up with the gang again. A day in Aqaba without a plan or friends really sucks. If it had been premeditated, I could have had a blast, but since it was foisted upon me, it sucked. Life got tremendously better once we made it back home. I would have to say that was the worst experience I have ever had in Aqaba.

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