There were two chores I had to get done today: renew my visa which expired 2 days ago, and do a food and water drop.
I heard horror stories of others when they went to get their visas renewed. Stories of two and a half hours of process times seemed the norm. When I arrived at the police station in Ma’an I had no idea of what to expect, especially since I had an expired visa. To my advantage I know how to politely get on good terms with officials.
After the traditional hand shaking of the four officers and the “Salaam alaikum” and a “Saba al-kher” greeting, I sat down for, you guessed it, tea. After I amused them with the little Arabic I know, we were ready to get down to business. There were multiple forms to fill out, fingerprints to be taken, and letters of intent to write. One officer asked me questions while he filled in a form. When that officer was done another one asked me questions while he filled in another form. Of course most of the information was duplicated. I had to extract my Jordanian phone number three times from my phone. I was tempted just to tell them it’s on the other form but I knew better. I just smiled, turned my phone on, and said, “One minute please.”
When all that was done, they called in the big boss. In walked a heavyset man, cigarette dangling from his mouth, and his uniform decorated more colorfully than any general I’ve ever seen.
“Sorry, I have to charge you four dinars since your visa expired,” he said in an apologetic voice after reviewing the paperwork.
“I understand, it’s no problem,” I said with a smile.
In a short time, my passport was stamped and after more handshakes and the traditional “Ma’a salaama,” I was on my way out.
1. Police officers and military officials can be very nice people if you treat them with respect.
2. If someone tells me something in Arabic and my response is “Sorry, I don’t understand,” yelling the same thing back louder and louder doesn’t help me understand it any better.
When I got back to Wadi Musa I had set up with a local guide with a four-wheel drive to do a food and water drop for me along the trail. There is a 60-mile stretch after I leave Wadi Musa with no water or villages to buy food in. Just a lot of mountains and desert.
He said it would take about four hours to complete the task. We were successful but, after getting lost twice and taking a ‘shortcut,’ we arrived back in his village well after dark. The last part of the day entailed cutting off “much distance” by bypassing a large semicircle of paved highway and taking a dirt road straight across. After we left the paved road the dirt road got worse and worse until it all but disappeared. In the pitch-dark, the guide and I walked ahead of the truck, scouting out a route while the driver followed us. We were close to the paved road but separated by an impassable ravine and we were diverging further and further from it. Does this sound familiar? Well after an hour after we left the paved road we finally made it to the other paved road.
It was well after 9 p.m. when we arrived at the guide’s village. Tired and exhausted we crashed at his house after his family prepared a wonderful, delicious dinner.
Chores can turn into interesting adventures
You can read all my journal entries from hiking the Jordan Trail here: Jordan Trail