Made it to Amman with all of my luggage and most my sanity

Who ever it was who said that the longest journey begins with the first step never sat on their behinds for several hours on a plane. Even though I’ve earned my iron-butt flying wings for 28 hour hauls to and from Malaysia – twice in a six month period – international travel is fatiguing if not down right insanity at times.

So since I’m cooked – and I mean beat like an ole rug and put out to dry – I’m going to go all formula and do the “good, the not-so-bad and the almost-ugly, in reverse order …

… but please don’t be too disappointed, the posts after this will be of a less rambling flavor, covering actual places, faces and topics. But for now – tired boy posts what he can;

The almost-ugly:

I had such grand plans of doing some YouTube video of me leaving hearth and home. Yeah right. It was a mad rush to get out of the house after work for the ‘real job’ or ‘day job’ ran about 30 minutes longer than I had anticipated. Praise God I spent this past Sunday staging what I was going to pack – and Thursday night packing.

The only thing I forgot was toothpaste – which ironically the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Amman dispenses for such travelers in little tiny, 2 use kits. Instead I hiked out to the ‘circle’ and bought some. Didn’t find any “Crust” like I did last trip, but did find the $7.50 dinar (about $10.5 USD) for a 1.6 ounce tube a bit inflationary. Perhaps that’s why the Hyatt was a bit begrudging for an otherwise plush and opulent hotel.

A hotel that by-the-way charges $15 dinar ($21 USD) per day for Internet access – which I find a little-bit not-so-business friendly in an era where so much less expensive and/or free WiFi is available. In other words, still charge for it – but maybe not so much?

I’m only beefing about this because I missed my connection with the good folks from Zain – who hopefully will catch up for me and provide me with a PCMCIA that will allow me to post from just about anywhere, pretty much all the time.

We missed because our flight from JFK was late, because JFK was a mess on Friday. I thought for sure at one point my delayed flight from Raleigh to JFK was going to get canceled or worse, re-routed to LaGuardia Airport. The whole visa dance at the Queen Alia International Airport, Amman also took a bit longer than anticipated – though I did find one aspect of the lines interesting. I’ll throw it up to YouTube and let you decide.

Mostly we were just late all the way around, that cost me about $42 in Internet charges so far – ordering a second day as a contingency.

The not-so-bad:

Kudos to Delta Airlines/ComAir for getting my bag all the way to Amman – and thumbs up for the comfortable economy class provided by Royal Jordanian Airlines. If I’m in the same type of plane on the way back, I’ll take a snapshot of the seats that dogleg inwards where the legs go … hope that JAL, NAL and Korea Air take note as such a configuration allowed the individual to swing all the way back without killing my knees.

We did have the crying baby syndrome on both flights – but that’s to be expected in economy class. I would have liked the staff to bring water around a bit more as it helps avoid such nasties as dehydration and DVT – but other than that I found the crew both accommodating, friendly and very encouraging of my mangling of Arabic for “excuse me” and “thank you.”

Oh and I’d recommend ordering the vegetarian dinner, as delicious as I think airline food will ever be – tasty and didn’t sit like a big ball-o-beef in my gut.

I think I carried to much gear – but I still recall how some people’s stuff got cooked last time around so I’m playing it safe. More on what I packed later, much more from the geek’s perspective.

I did find it ironic that our first night here we were treated to Italian cuisine – it was delicious, well prepared, delightfully appointed and presented – though this fan of Middle Eastern cuisine can’t wait for more local fare.

Still, the restaurant at the Hyatt is a good place if you’re looking for elegant Italian meals served in an ambiance fitting of such finer restaurants.

The good:

Oh the people, so many wonderful people. Where do I start?

I’ll start with Sam – who is not part of the JTB tour, but rather a local resident of my home near Raleigh, who shared the same flight ordeal. Only he has the additional burden of driving into Jerusalem tomorrow. It’s a weird thing, but his status doesn’t allow him a direct flight – even if it is for his mother who could use our prayers.

There was Osama and Barad- who seated across the aisle to my right were young, energetic and entertaining. They appreciated my humor, I appreciated their smiles and laughter the entire way. I’m bushed, but I’ll get pix up on this article tomorrow when I’ve got some more energy.

There was John a resident of nearby Moore Head, N.C. with the U.S. Embassy to Jordan, and Ski, a grizzled fire fighter/instructor from even nearer Sanford, NC. We all lamented how we’d miss our beloved BBQ while traveling in the Middle East.

Then there are people on the press tour. I was seated next to Mark, who just happened to be from my original neck of the woods (Silver Spring/Rockville, MD). We picked up and gabbed like we knew each other for years – or was that the 11 some-odd hour flight that made it seem like years?-)

There’s Mike Ireland originally from London but now living in the States. There’s Steve who takes pictures of wild animals for a living – guess they brought him along to keep a photographic journal of my shenanigans. There’s folks from Chicago, Kansas City, Colorado, and more.

Other good stuff – well, as much as I beef about the hi-speed Internet here at the Hyatt, they are HUGE, spacious, well-appointed and clean rooms. I might not stay here for extended business, but for a vacation or one-or-two day visit — nnnniiiiiiiiiiccceeee.

So that’s it for now. And less ‘rambling’ … I’m just soooooo pooped,and it’s late. Pix and videos definitely tomorrow – there’s a particular Internet cafe I want to visit, photograph and share with you – that and I interview some individuals about offshoring as well the Jordanian education system – so come back tomorrow for more fun stuff.

Almost live from Amman, Jordan

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