Feeling my way into Amman

27 03 2008

We board our flight slowly, and by row.  I am on a FULL flight, not an empty seat on the aircraft.  Allot of Americans with short hair-cuts on board, including some with American Embassy Baghdad jackets on.  Most of those are connecting to commercial flights from Amman to southern and northern Iraq.

I will leave most of the details of my flights to a separate post, but I can say I slept for over 5 hours, which is quite the record for me.  We had quite the tailwind, as we made up our 1/2 late departure from JFK and land about an hour early in AMM.  Quickly off the plane, I exchange money, buy my 10 dinar Visa, and get stamped through before the lines start.  

No matter, it took forever for my bag to come through.  Not that it was long for the bags to start (they were going when I got there) but that the A340-200 was loaded to the gills with baggage, and goods.  A few tires, some seats, many boxes, but mostly massive suitcase after massive suitcase.  Eventually my small case comes off, and I make my way through customs.

I buy my phone chip (8 1/2 dinar) and decide I am awake enough to pick up my car here instead of the next morning in Amman, saving 20+ dinar on the taxi.  

Eventually, I get into a clapped out Peugot 307.  I should return it, but don’t want to argue, and it is way better than any UPS truck I drove.  I can handle it.

Forgetting a map, I drive north to the city with just a mental map, a cell phone, a remembrance of what the hotel looks like, and  the address of the hotel.  The main highway into the city is not bad – dual carriage-way with interchanges as I make my way around lumbering trucks into Amman.

Amman itself is not terribly pretty.  A modern city it is full of sand coloured buildings in rocky, hilly, and treeless terrain.  I go north at the 7th circle (which is now an interchange) knowing that the hotel is in a district north of the circles.  Amman’s main east west roadway has numerous names, but can be called “the circles” — numbered traffic circles from the city center out to the west.  

I take the main road going east feeling that this is the right way.  It is rush hour, so the traffic is surging.  Lanes? Lanes are well, nice in theory.  Signalling? If doing something major, maybe. Horns? Less than NYC.   

Eventually, I make my way to where my hotel is.  It is 3 blocks from me, if only I can get there… … … … … A dozen times around the blocks, and possibly the wrong way down a short street, I make it to the outer guardhouse of the Kempinski Amman.  Because of the bombing of the Marriott Amman a few years ago, my car (and myself) go through basic airport screening to get into the hotel.  Baggage x-rayed, metal detected &c. 

Quikly checked in, I am up to my room overlooking Amman.

Where my hotel is located is mostly a banking district – the hotels down by the circles have more around them.  I clean up from the trip and make my way out into the city.  It is COLD.  My sweater not working to beat back the wind, and feeling tired, I have dinner at the hotel.  FInding some wireless, I make a blog post, do some reading, and call it a night watching BBC World.


Tomorrow, to Petra