What Do You Mean, No Bus?

Wadi Musa -> Ma’an -> Amman, Jordan

This morning we got up nice and early to see the highlight of the Petra National Park: the Monastery! In the interest of time, I convinced poor Philip to take a donkey up the mountain. He may never forgive me! But it really was beautiful up there, wrapped to the ears in our new kaffiya, taking pictures, chatting with a young Belgian photographer who was waiting for a second day for the perfect light.

Then we walked back down, passing Miriam on her way back up, and had just enough time to see the highlights of the Roman City before we hoofed it back up to the entrance so we’d make it on to the JETT bus by 4 o’clock. But when we got there, we discovered that there was no JETT bus today. The morning bus down from Amman couldn’t make it, because the Shobak road was still closed, so there was no bus to take us back up to Amman. By this time, it was too late to find a public bus back to Amman, either. Instead, the bus parking lot manager offered to drive us to Ma’an, where we could catch a bus to Amman. We agreed.

Now, while I (and many other Peace Corps Volunteers and other expats who live more than 4km from the so-called “Fortress America”) think that the American embassy tends to be overly-cautious about their warnings, I do lend some credence to their warning about Ma’an. Not only is it known for its “radical Islamist leanings,” a term I’m always suspicious of, but also for its anti-governmental riots: bread riots, Tawjihi riots…. Even my archaeologist friend, who’s well known and well respected in Wadi Musa and the south of Jordan, recommends that non-Arab women going to Ma’an cover their hair. And when we got to the bus station in Ma’an, the parking lot manager recommended that Philip let me do the talking, and that I stick to my Bedouin Arabic. And it seems to have been successful, because when we finally arrived in Amman, the young guys who’d been sitting next to us even stood around in the pouring rain to help us find a cab at a reasonable price. So I guess the embassy was wrong again.

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