Of course, here in Jordan, it was just another day. It was our second day, and the beginning of the work week for most people. Us included, as our language lessons began. However, some in our group managed to end the day with apple pie and ice cream : )
But maybe I should back up and fill in.
The flights themselves were not too terrible. We flew from Green Bay to Chicago and had about three hours on the ground there. That went pretty quickly because while most of the group took the opportunity to get some dinner, I accompanied Katie outside the terminal. She needed to meet her husband who was bringing a camera lens and I took the chance for one last smoke. Then it was about 8 hours to London’s Heathrow. That was the worst leg. I had hoped to sleep, and ought to have been able, as it was dark and mostly quiet, but also very cramped. I dozed a little, but never really slept. None of us did, so by the time we got to London – 11:35 am local time – we were a happy but groggy group. We had a 5 hour layover there. Jeremy was tagged for translation duty by the Heathrow security people before we’d even made it through their security check. He very kindly (and typically for him) assisted an Arabic-speaking woman wend her way through security and check-in. Then we found our way to the central hub of Terminal Five where we shopped, joked around, ate, and studied Arabic. Corey and Jay fell asleep watching the soccer game (a first for Corey!) I went into my first Boots! That was very exciting. Only a reader of English detective novels will understand why : )
We were all very pleased when we boarded our Royal Jordanian flight. Wow! Very nice in every way. For example, in addition to screens in every backrest, they were playing a video about Jordan all through boarding. The flight was not full, so we all had room to stretch out. The flight attendants were very friendly (several were Chinese, by the way, and spoke Chinese, Arabic, English, and probably several other languages). The food was much better than on American, too. That flight was about 5 hours, and we landed in Amman close to midnight, local time.
Oh! The entertainment options on Royal Jordanian are super! In addition to the typical radio, tv and a few movies, there were instructional things that were very useful. So you could learn about the history of music, the country, the world, language, etc. On the kids tv shows, there was an animated show about Arabic language that I watched that was very useful in learning not only more about the alphabet but also picking up vocabulary. I listened to a recitation of the Holy Quran for about an hour in the beginning of the flight, as well.
When we arrived, Jay changed money while the rest of us got in line for our visas. Jay gave those of us who needed it the 10 JD (Jordanian Dinars) for the visa so we wouldn’t spend all our time waiting in different lines. The line moved fairly quickly as such things go. It was a two-step process; first one pays for the visa, then one goes to the next desk where one’s passport is stamped. There were very few questions at either desk, though that could change depending on the mood of the people in charge, one supposes.
We were all lucky, and had no problems whatsoever. All of our baggage was awaiting us downstairs at baggage claim. There was a security screening, but no physical handling of items, and then we were through the gates and our driver was awaiting us! Well, actually, THEY were through the gates. I had smelled cigarette smoke, and after 24 hours without smoking, followed my nose to the little glass room for smokers. I spoke to a man from Dubai who was very impressed with my 10 words of Arabic (he didn’t think Americans were interested in learning Arabic). He told me that English is a great language for business, but Arabic is the language of poetry and of love . . . I seem to remember hearing this line quite often when I was learning Italian : )
I saw that the last two to clear customs had come down to baggage claim, and the others had taken my suitcase through, so I rushed to join them, and then we were off to meet our bus driver and engage Amman!