Some of the frustrating disadvantages of group travel in Jordan, and in general

One of the most frustrating disadvantages to group travel is that when there are 20+ people traveling in a group, it means that there are 20+ egos, temper tantrums, ignorant outbursts, and selfish behavioral characteristics to take into consideration…

…There were those who were notoriously late for group gatherings, those who constantly made special requests … and also those who clearly needed a lesson (or many) on respecting all aspects of a foreign culture …

… In my opinion, the worst offenders were those who were ignorant enough to make certain assumptions about Egypt and Jordan, and especially the people of these countries … I guess my expectations were too high for some participants and they often reminded me of my inaccuracy.

If you’re like me, the above ‘Post-Vacation Thoughts‘ offered by Brett Mickelson beg the question “are any other similar acts of bloggery detailing the disadvantages of group travel in Jordan and in general?

I’m glad I asked …

Dean negotiating with some his more emotional travel mates

Dean 'negotiating' with some of his more 'emotional' travel mates in Jerash.

… funny photo aside, along with managing well-optimized egos are those members of a group whom grate on others. For example, in this kvetch-a-thon we read of some nerves rubbed somewhat raw:

Dinner time arriving, Faisel took us for an orientation walk of the town. Nerves growing thin, I wasn’t the only one wanting to bite the head off of one of the two “louder” members of our group …

Goodbyes MERCIFULLY done, the group went back up into the main town and found a “Mystic Pizza” (safe enough). A glare that possibly scorched her eyebrows later, one of the girls swapped me away from the louder member of the group who had been slowly plucking my every last remaining nerve…

Following one of the other Australians (who also confessed a desire to break every piece of furniture in the place), we made our way back to the hotel while trying to stay in close enough proximity to the girls so they wouldn’t be hassled.

Here’s another example from TravelBlog where a couple of younger tourists were grouped with mostly older ladies – the latter of from which a few could be classified as Olympic-class shoppers. Not a problem until the poor tour guide finds themselves engaged in ‘cat herding‘ before they can get everyone on the bus and go somewhere else.

At Madaba we first discovered that some members of our tour liked to shop. In particular two ladies called Patti and Allie. Patti and Allie had come on the trip with another friend

Caroline and these three ladies were exactly like the ladies from Ab Fab. Allie was Patsy, Caroline was Eddie and Patti was Saffy. We ended up having many good laughs with these ladies, but at this stage of the journey we were most dismayed to discover that Patti and Allie could spend in excess of 20 minutes shopping while the rest of us waited for them. It reminded me very much of my darling mother.

Of course, sometimes it’s not the other travelers, but the travel agency or tour guide that turns the group into a mob, as we read in this ‘tense’ account:

Our last day in Jordan was spent driving northward, with some stops, towards our overnight stay in the town called Madaba which was Moab in the bible. It was an overall tense day in our group. Khaleid was not happy with us that we questioned him to the agency and we were not happy with him that we had to do it in the first place. The tension mixed with the fact that the trip was winding down really made for a quiet day. I think that almost everyone was looking forward to wrapping up the trip or moving onward to their next destination. Despite all of this, I enjoyed the day.

Perhaps one solution is to go it alone with compatible friends, and a competent taxi driver.

Then there’s always the temptation of striking out on one’s own:

Not that life here is all that demanding or stressful: all I really do is Arabic; but being part of the group, along with all its little rules and requirements, can be a bit taxing and at times frustrating – like this past week: I had a little run-in with a lady from BYU who had come to evaluate the program here – it was like talking to a wall; but at least I think I made her feel uncomfortable. And so… the thought of striking out on my own again proved too tempting.

I just happened to have a pamphlet of Jerash and its Roman ruins at the house …

Though sometimes getting away from the group is more the fault of a careless tour guide than the intentions of the individual … especially when that individual is a female who stumbles into a male only area:

We walked down a staircase past a small group of men, and I followed Hilda through an archway before quickly realizing that I had just walked into a section of the complex that was restricted to women. I apologized to the two muhajabaat sitting there and backed out, to find that Waleed and our guide had disappeared, and that I was left alone with the group of strange men.

Another alternative is to trade one set of problems for another, traveling with family. Here’s one such blogger whom along with making it through Jordan with 25 family members – did so while feeding their Scrapping or Scrap book hobby.

Here is group shot of our tour group while in Egypt. There were a bunch of us. And what was really cool was that over 25 of us were FAMILY!! I love scrapping and reliving the memories of this trip. I’m so thankful to have experienced it–not just the tours and the history, but being with my familiy to experience it.

…Then we went to Jordan. It was really amusing seeing Jordan’s name everywhere. I totally got a kick out it!! He was so proud! These were taken at the airport. Joey wanted to pull Jordan’s bag..LOL..what a silly!

Of course, some times you’re group is just fine … it’s the other groups touring Jordan that may offer one or more interesting events, such as this nearly unfortunate incident detailed in Jordan Journals by someone whom forgot the ‘safety in numbers‘ rule:

When we approached the deck above the Jordan River and the Baptism font, our eyes were treated to the rather full body of a young woman clad in the briefest of white bikinis, thong and all! A group of women were to the side, in various stages of undress, having just climbed out of the river. And, the crowning glory, a woman of probably 55-60 years of age still in the water, clothed, or rather unclothed, in a soaking wet black negligee-style dress, which left nothing to the imagination.

The majority of our group were truly offended, particularly an Arab nun accompanied by younger relatives; and a couple of German ladies, one resident in Jordan, and one visiting. They verbally attacked our guide, who explained that this was a recent occurrence amongst Russian tourists, and when he had expressed his reservations on previous occasions, had been told by the “bathers” that to submerge themselves in the holy waters was part of their culture. The independent guide, i.e. not of the Baptism Site, said that the tourists were entitled to behave as they wished.

That last account reminds me of my first trip Jordan, when enjoying some ice cream at the adjoining Mövenpick Resort, we were beset first by a belly dancer, then a gaggle of drunk Russian women whom compelled us on stage to join them (at the risk of pulling our arms clean out of their sockets mind you).

Chuck and Dean boogie like its 1995

Chuck Holton and Dean Peters boogie like its 1999

The next day, we spotted the same group solemly visiting the banks of the Baptismal site. That said, I found the time spent with my own group that day spiritually moving and motivating as expressed in my post “Walking in the steps of Jesus along the banks of Bethany Beyond the Jordan.”

Oh I could go on, just as I’m sure those who’ve traveled with me could do likewise. The point being, when it comes to travel mates and tour groups, the aphororism “your mileage may vary” most certainly applies.

Put another way via some recent Jordanian blog posts regarding human interaction, please take “No offense …” to the question “Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?” … as it is all part of the travel package.

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