Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bon Voyage

We had a great time over the past two weeks, but it's time to start wrapping it up. In no particular order, here are some random thoughts as I finish up with our tour of Egypt and Jordan:

Crankiness:  Here is where I should insert a group picture of our busload of fellow tourists in the Forum at Jerash. Our guide, Moen (you can call me Mo), introduced a photographer who wanted to snap us - and obviously sell the picture back to us.

However, when Mo asked how many of us wanted to take the group picture, not a single hand was raised. It was an embarrassingly long pause as it sank in for all of us that not one of us gave a rat's ass about remembering any of the others.

I was happy about that because it meant that I was not the only cranky old fart wandering around Jordan who hadn't bonded all that well with his fellow tourists. In fact, a few moments later it became obvious that I wasn't even close to being the crankiest one in our group.

We had in our group an Irishwoman who was a forensic psychologist, and she had obviously forgotten her meds that morning. As Mo talked about the Forum in Jerash, she demanded more and more info. "I want to know who built this, when did they build it, how long did they stay, why did they leave, how did it get destroyed," she rattled at 78 rpm. I was surprised she didn't ask what their sign was and whether they were good dancers. It sure sounded like she thought Mo didn't have much real depth behind the information he was giving us.

Exasperated, Mo explained to her that he had pretty much told us all of this over the bus' PA system on the way to Jerash. But she was short, Irish and a forensice psychologist - she was not backing down. She told him she may have been asleep when he told us all of that.

So he promised that he would get to all that info at the next spot where we stopped our walk. And he did, dredging up textbook histories of the occupation of Jerash through about 20 centuries, the rulers and emperors and governors, the types of material used in the buildings, the dates of the major earthquakes that destroyed much of the place.

I said to LK that sometimes when you call a bluff, the guy actually has the cards. And as the rest of us in the group started to glaze over from an overdose of info, the Irishwoman dropped to the perimeter of the group. She did not say another word but later in the day went missing from the tour as she joined another group without telling Mo.

And she wasn't even the only one who needed to get the bug removed from their backside. While we stopped on our walk down the column-lined main street, some people used the chance to have their
spouse or friend get out in the empty street and pose for a picture.

Except some old bat from the UK wanted no one in her picture, just the empty street. "Can you please get out of the way," she barked at two guys posing for a picture. They explained that they would move as soon as their picture was taken. "Well, hurry it up," she snapped, "I don't want any people in my picture."

Or probably her life, either, I would guess.

At any rate, I was happy this all happened on the final day. Up until then I had thought I was the crankiest person on the tour, but there's no question I would have to be lucky to even get a place in the trifecta.

Vagueness:  I know I posted earlier about how some of our fellow travelers weren't very aware of things, but I really reached my limit of patience after two weeks in which on every single day we would see people wander off in the wrong direction, ask a question about something they had just been told, ignore everything they had been told and then complain, etc, etc. Over and over and over again.

I know people travel light on holidays nowadays, but many of these folks seem to have decided their brains might count as excess baggage. On our final night, as we boarded the bus to go to the airport, LK started pounding my arm every time someone in the group asked a question for which we had just been given the answer moments earlier. I finally asked her to stop, fearing blood clots on the flight.

Was it poor listening skills? Lack of concentration? Memory failure?

Sure. Or just plain stupidity, perhaps.

I would worry about regaining the top spot in the cranky rankings with this observation except that I know I did not feel this way about the people we traveled with on our cruises earlier this year. Nope, I think this trip just happened to be one of those times when we ended up with all those folks who thought they said "trains" when God was handing out brains and decided to take the ship instead.

Or as LK said, they were renaming our cruise. FormerlyVoyages to Antiquity, it was now known as Voyages to Senility.

Shopping:  Some times what doesn't happen is as remarkable as what does. LK did not go shopping for two weeks and only bought one inexpensive item as a souvenir. I point that out as one of the most incredible things on this trip, and those who know her will understand.

Old Places: It was a holiday about checking out all the ancient monuments and places. We walked in the places where the Pharaohs, Alexander, St Anthony, Moses and Pompey all walked. We were on the Red and Dead Seas, the Nile and Suez Canal. We saw old pyramids, old temples, old monasteries, old tombs, old cities and the desert where they filmed Lawrence of Arabia.

That was why we went, and we were not disappointed. But in the midst of all this we also encountered a remarkable attempt at modern living. Tomorrow I will write about the electric toilet.

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