There's other things I've been wanting to blog about, but yesterday two things almost simultaneously bumped me back to a week pretty much exactly 10 years ago. It almost seems these things had to happen so I would be thinking back to it just now.
10 years ago, I went on my first "big" trip, completely alone. And to Jordan, no less. Petra had been sort of a dream for a few years, and that autumn I had decided to make it real. It was during that trip that I got the news that I would get my own apartment within a few months of coming home. It was also the week the second Intifada started and in which former Canadian prime minister Pierre-Elliott Trudeau died. It's funny the things one remembers, but all of this has a reason.
But first things first. It started with a pillow. After the last few weeks, which somehow had left me with just the time to take of care things happening right then, but left both my doll collection and my apartment in, simply speaking, a total state of disarray, I managed to get it all tidied up and sorted out this weekend. After rearranging a few things in my living room, I decided that four pillows on one sofa were a bit much - and decided to reduce that to three. I had bought all of these pillow covers on said trip to Jordan - after being told on the phone by my parent that I'd get that apartment. The pillows left on my sofa are the ones I bought at the hotel in Amman. Sadly, the colors are a bit faded from the sunlight, but I still love them, and they're authentically Jordanian, even hand-embroidered.
The other cover I bought together with another one at a big souvenir shop on the way from Amman to Aqaba. They're made in India, but they didn't cost much and I liked them. But now I decided this green one was one too many...
So I took the cover off... and there appeared...
A vintage 1994 piece of "art" by yours truly! I think I must have made this during the silk painting workshop at school. I admit, it makes me cringe. But at that time, I decorated pretty much everything with my "cartoon" characters. And underneath the silk? Yet another cover! I believe it comes from the sofa we then had at home (look at those creases!).
I probably just grabbed any pillow I had then, or that my mom gave me, and never bothered to remember what was inside them. I guess I grew up a bit in-between and what I had made a few years before had become uninteresting.
Then I wanted to change the pillow within one of the other covers, and look what turned up there... an even older piece of work from school! From my "draw a peace sign everywhere-hippie-phase".
And as if that hadn't been enough, there was another reminder of this trip in the shape of an article on wellness hotels in Jordan in the Sunday newspaper. And all I thought was - okay, so they wax poetically about all the great hotels that have been built on the shore of the Dead Sea and in Aqaba, but they haven't seen a dot of the country. I had loved it - dodgy hotels, crazy traffic and all, and I could never imagine going there just to spend a week at an expensive hotel and to never see anything from the country!
Yes, not far away, just across the border, the second Intifada broke out, but we never felt anything but safe. The food was great, the people were friendly, and it was a fun, varied group that I traveled with (two of them being Canadian - thus the reference to Trudeau - of course they heard of it on some hotel TV). I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Eating by candle light at a "beduin tent" restaurant because of a power outage, drinking hot tea in the greatest heat in Wadi Rum, the most reliable wake-up service in the shape of the 5 a.m. call to prayer (and in Wadi Musa even in stereo!), a unique beach panorama in Aqaba with mountains on one and freight ships on the other side, plus Turkish pop music from the beach bar and another prayer call as the soundtrack, a hotel in Wadi Musa (Petra) that would put Fawlty Towers to shame service-wise (they didn't even get the change to daylight-saving time correct and woke us up at 4 a.m. instead of 6 a.m.), a 12 kilometer walk through Petra and to a place called "World's End" in more heat, visiting a traditional (meaning non-tourist) hammam and being kneaded through like never before in my life, three women riding a taxi alone through Amman with an enthusiastic Palestinian taxi driver who barely spoke English - just to visit a mosque - and to top it all off, riding through the empty streets of Amman late at night with 6 other people in a sedan (no, strictly speaking, that's not legal either in Jordan...). Now that's real life! All those fab hotels this newspaper talks about didn't exist at the time. I think there was just one hotel in Aqaba with a private beach that allowed women to wear just a swimsuit. Not that I minded! I could easily have spent another week or so there.
A reminder of Wadi Rum. This scenery has nothing to hide from the Monument Valley. It was also nicely un-touristic. Bumpy 4WD trucks and beduin guides wearing their traditional long white garb - and who climbed these rocks in their sandals like they were just walking up a hill. One really has to see it to believe it...