Thursday, June 30, 2011


Well Amman is Amman and Zarqa is Zarqa and the 2 will never meet. Zarqa for me was a bit scary, houses very close together. Small winding streets with cars parked anyway they can on both sides of you,plus buses and taxis thrown in for fun and pedestrians too. Found out here people do not have the right away and its a bit like your the frog in a game of frogger.

 I got to see the house I would be staying in and the basic needs were met but I still didn't like it much, but it was in my budget so here I will stay and make the best of it.There was no air conditioning, all the furniture is floor level and I'm not used to sitting on the floor, it caused alot of hip and knee pain. the house is kind of like a duplex with the men staying on one side and the women staying on the other, each side has a bathroom and the kitchen is on the woman's side. In the middle is a big open area like a patio, everyone sits outside at night and its so hot that most sleep there too.

I think I was here a day and a half when I said its too hot I can't take it-take me somewhere cooler. Next stop Madaba (ahh).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Impromptu rest areas

I have noticed a few odd and interesting behaviors here. While driving down the road and seeing a few cars pulled over to the shoulder I asked if there was an accident or car trouble. They said no the cars pulled over to rest, stretch or even whip out their prayer rug to pray or even better take their erghela "water pipe" and smoke shisha (fruit flavored tobacco. Some cars a bit further up the road were having a small picnic. Great idea, then you just get back in your car an carry move along down the road.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Getting acclamaited...

This is a week in summary- The first 2 days was resting and recouperating from the 29 hour flight. Rayan had pre-rented a 2 bedroom 2 bath apartment close to the airport because when you get in at 2am all you want to do is get home and relax. The apartment was airconditioned and the bathrooms were nice, TV had many english channels now all I needed was some food. Asking Rayan what was around for a snack, thinking I would have to eat something weird and I just got here, he said he would suprise me. Out from the kitchen he came holding a, wait are my eyes decieving me, a pizza box with a veggie pizza my fav! Turns out they have little ceasars and pizza hut here, a little slice of home so far away.
  We were only to spend a few days at the apartment, but I had not really ventured out anywhere yet and I wasn't ready to go to the next destination so we extended our stay another 3 days.  Amman is wonderful, its like NYC without the crime. Of course there is crime everywhere but I felt very safe and most signs were in arabic and english. The food wasn't that strange hummus is the rage in the states now so it was quite normal to eat it. The mall's here are quite fabulous 5-6 stories, open til midnight, and a retractable roof in the center of it. You can shop, eat or just people watch, its great. There is even a grocery store, movie theater and a TGI fridays. I am trying not to go into any stores/restaurants that are in the US because I didnt fly 6,650 miles to go to mcdonalds and starbucks. That being said I did go to starbucks once to use the internet lol-way over priced. Then I discovered what the locals do, sit right outside of starbucks and still get internet service, brilliant. I was at this point loving Amman and thinking this is different but similar I can do this and decided it was time to go to Zarqa, the suburb I will be living and working in.

Friday, June 24, 2011

6-24-11 2am arrival in Amman, Jordan

I am not sure what day it is, just know that I am finally here.  It's 2am Amman time but 7pm Florida time,and its 6-24, I left on 6-22 so pardon the confusion.

About Jordan..even though it is the middle east ME it is actually in the continent of Asia, on the west side. In 1923 it became its own sovereign country, emancipated from Britain. It is ruled by a king/queen and elected parliment and prime minister.Currency 1.40 USD = 1JD, time EST + 7hours.

I was one of the first ppl off the plane and down the long winding hallway to customs/security. There were only 2 ppl ahead of me, this was going to be easy peasy japaneasy right? Well almost... I overheard the customs agent speaking to the person ahead of me- its 26 JD (Jordanian dinars for the visa), she said I just got off the plane and its 2am, I have euros. The visa/customs agent then told her she could exchange her money down the hall at the currency kiosk and then return to the end of the line, which was now growing longer steadily. Panicking that I would be next and in the same situation I remembered a travel tip for a free visa if you told them you were going to Aqaba within 48 hours (remember this as it causes me great trouble in about 3 weeks). Next was called, hey thats me and I stepped up to try my luck. 26 JD please said the visa agent, I'd like a free visa because I am going to Aqaba tomorrow I replied and held my breathe. He looked up then reached over for a different stamp punched it on my passport and told me to move along to the next check point.  Next stop was the luggage carousel, and there I met my online friend Rayan, I had warned him I was bringing alot of luggage so he brought 2 other friends to assist us. Everyone grabbed a bag and we were on our merry way when we were then routed to customs. We had to place all the baggage on a belt to be xrayed and then over to an agent to tell him what I had to declare. Another travel tip: Different countries have very different rules, this one taxes you on some items you bring in eg: electronics- I had brought several new electronic items in the package to give as gifts. Its better to take them out of the package and say they are all yours for personal use or else you have to pay taxes on it STUPID. This is how I know I am not totally recovered from being sick. I love to travel, this is my 9th country over 5 continents to visit, yet instead of rejoicing I was highly perturbed and kinda over the whole thing for the moment. I had envisioned and half expected to be picked up from the airport on a camel and was happy to find a mitsubishi lancer and hyundai elantra waiting for me. 1 car for the luggage and one for me and Rayan plus the drivers of course, his 2 friends. Next blog, getting acclimated to my new surroundings.
Sad to learn that the hard rock cafe here is no longer in business.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

6-23-11 Welcome to Frankfurt!

After a restful sleep and a scrumptious breakfast on the plane (how often can you say you had a good nights rest and good food on a plane? I arrived in Frankfurt, Germany bright and early about 830am.Frankfurt is otherwise know as Bankfurt, the financial capital of germany.There are museums and a zoo and a few other things to do and I had a loooong layover and didn't want to just hang at the airport so I decided to be adventurous and venture into the city. I did have a quick shower and stow my carry on luggage in the locker before heading out. Reminder and this is very important...bring your passport and TICKET with you because you are leaving and have to go thru security again. No ticky no laundry as the saying goes and let me just say I learned the hard way when I was stuck in Amsterdam in '05 and had to be escorted by security to my locker, nuf said.

So, I asked the airport information booth the best way to get to the city and they pointed to the adjacent train station sign a few steps away. How did I not know this or even see it? Well I did see it but all the signs and I do mean all are in german and I was totally clueless.Wandering aimlessly thru the station platform I asked a few people which train goes to the city and they pointed me to the right platform. While standing there waiting for my train it dawned on me hey do I need a ticket?? Yes, I know and hey Ash I think think this is where you get your "blonde" roots from. Walked back UP the stairs to where I came from to look for the ticket counter and found a self service ticket booth. Wait its all in german WTF, so asking yet another person which ticket will take me into the city and where do I swipe my visa card? Um, yeah they didn't take visa so I left that line, walked back over to the info booth to ask about a currency exchange kiosk. By now I have had quite an orientation to the airport and was ready to get out of it and explore. Finally found the exchange kiosk, got my euros, 100 dollars got me about 70 euros.Over at the self serve ticket booth I successfully purchased my roundtrip ticket albeit with the help of another traveler. It was about 10 euros for the ticket. Down to the platform again, short wait and onto the train. It was busy but not over crowded and I found a seat. I looked at the numerous stops and thought um which one is Frankfurt and why isn't it in another language. Turning to the girl sitting next to me, I gestured I wanted to speak to her-she was listening to an mp3 player. Pardon me do you speak english, I asked? Yes, she replied, and infact was an american student studying in germany. She told me to get off in 5 stops whew almost there I thought to myself. She got off a few stops later and a oung man sitting across from me politely said he spoke english and would remind me when we were at the right stop. Which was good because as soon as we started talking ( I was counting the stops in my head) I thought was that the 3rd or the 4th stop we just passed. No I must tell you my nick name is wrong way sharon. I have a terrible sense of direction and I get lost even with my gps back home. Ok stop 5 off I go, thanking the young man as I left. Guess what? No one even asked to see my ticket, no ticket police no turnstyle nada. So my advice get on a train without a ticket and if you get busted act like a clueless american and say ticket? This is in Frankfurt, there were turnstyles in France and a conductor.

On to the city....Wow theres a live band playing and tents selling food and beer really all this for me? Oh wait it must be a festival? Kewl, wandered around, looked at the food and listened to some music. It was getting close to lunch time by now and the smells coming from the food tents were enticing. As I got closer to the tents I noticed there was a menu hanging and yep you guessed it all in german. No problem I can just point to the food I want right?Well none of the food was recognizable, none of it and it was all kinds of sausage, I am not that adventurous, not at all, it smelled good but looked funky. Oh wait there's a little restaurant, they must have something half way normal to eat? I walked over an got a table on the terrace, it was a breezy overcast, chilly day. Looking at the menu I realized im not in kansas anymore or even close so I asked the waiter...if I could just eat one thing in Frankfurt what should it be?He thought for a moment and pointed to the Frankfurt specials and YEA the menu was in english! It had assorted sausages some marinated chesse and soups and an intriguing 7 herb cold sauce-The original dish from Frankfurt ok 1 of those please. I will post picks so you can get an idea as well. As soon as I ordered it started to drizzle and the chilly wind picked up-of course it did. They opened the umbrella above my table and I scouched my chair over to be under it. Finally, the food came... I big heaping plate of green goo-like an unspinach dip, served cold with a cold boiled potato and a sliced egg on top mmmm yummy. I took a few bites just to say I tried it and then was content to eat the bread they brought with it which came with 3 dipping sauces a green similar herbed mayo taste, a tuna flavored sauce and a spicy one. Then I asked if I could bum a german cig while I waited out the rainy drizzle. That was about 12 euros. Next on my to do list shopping..
Ok its thursday why is everything closed? Really, come on now, is this a joke am I being punked? Turns out is "all church day" and all the stores are closed in observance of this holiday. Ok no shopping and not alot of food, what do I do now? Just then I saw a big red tour bus and stop nearby, I hurried over and asked about taking a city tour. They said it was a 3 hour tour ( I heard 3 hour tour somewhere before?Gilliagan's island- and was 18 euros. I sat next to a lovely older woman that was from omg orlando florida, small world isn't it. I started chatting it up with her and never put on my mutilingual head set so the pics I took I'm not to terribly sure what they are of lol. I got off the tour about an hour early when they were passing the train station and decided to head back to the airport. Easy to get back only had to ask 2 ppl for directions. Made it thru security set off the metal detector and had to have a pat down.I still had 6 hours to kill so I wandered thru the shops there but didnt buy anything but a post card and pack of german cigs to bring to my friend picking me up at my destination. Ok back to the info booth. Which way to the Lufthansa business lounge I asked, well there is 5 which one did you want to go to? Um, which one did I come from I wondered. Hmm well I came from the us this morning would that narrow it down? Yes there were only 3 in that section, wait it had a shower does that help, ok only 2 fit that criteria. Off I go to find my luggage locker.C terminal section 192 finally there. Took a nap, then a shower, then checked my mail and sent some, had a snack 3 more hours to go. As it got closer to bording time I walked to the gate only to find out the departure gate had changed to another. Took a ppl mover across the airport,crowded stinky and not fun up a walkway over to the otherside all while schelping my carry on, laptop and backpack.Finally there at the correct gate and WHAT the plane has been delayed, seriously? The wait was minimal and a 3-4 men broke out their musical instruments and gave an impromptu concert, that was fun. Finally the call to board came and just as I handed my ticket to the counter person she looked at all my stuff and said I would have to check it. I promptly told her I didnt have to check it on the other flight why now? She said it was a full flight and space was at a premium. I told her I couldn't check it there was electronics, gifts and medication, she then went to get her supervisor and made me stand off to the side. I told my same spiel to the supervisor and handed her my ticket pointing out that I was a busniess class traveler. She looked at the ticket, then at the other clerk then to me and said oh this doesn't apply to you, you can now board. Saying thanks as I waved goodbye to the other ticket agent and muttered under my breath I hurried down the stairs to finally board the plane. 5 hours later I am finally there, its 2 am now and I really hope they remembered to pick me up.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

6-22-11 leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again....

Well, today starts the first day of the rest of my life.
Let me give you a little back story before moving forward...

    I was a hardworking nurse with 2 jobs. Also going thru a rough separation/divorce-so I thought it was easier to work all the time then to try to deal with the pain and anger of everything.
Well let me tell you that it didn't work out to well for me, by doing this I severely ran down my immune system and got sick with Epstein Barr syndrome (EBS) 3-11. EBS is the same virus as mono, chicken pox, shingles and herpes simplex 1, there is a blood test used to diagnose it. Symptoms were body aches, fatigue, headaches, confusion like you are getting the flu and then got ran over by a truck.
If you have ever had any one of these the virus stays dormant in your system and then reappears when your immune system is weakened, in my case stress weakened it. So, I was home sick from work, in bed 20 hours a day then laying on the couch the other part of the day. To tired to shower most days, depending on friends and family to bring me food, or ordering chinese or pizza since they were the only ones that delivered. There is known treatment for it, yes you cant treat the symptoms but not the virus. Doctors recommended vitamins, stay hydrated and lots of rest. I even had several IV's of a vitamin and hydration mixture to try to feel better,  of course vitamin infusions are not covered by insurance, the were about 150 ea x 3. I was out on FMLA until it ran out in June (which means I lost my job) and really wasn't feeling 100% better. I decided I needed a drastic change in my life so I (against all the advice of friends, family and financial advisers) cashed out my 401k and decided to pursue my life long dream of being a freelance travel writer and going around the world.
I have many international friends online and choose Amman, Jordan for my first destination. Now were up to date and the saga of my adventures will be moving forward. I also hope to continue my quest to visit as many hard rock cafes as possible. I used to collect the tshirts and will now collect the pins as

I found a great price for a one way business class ticket from Michelle at, that was a life saver as it was a 29 hour flight and I still wasn't feeling that energetic. The only bad part of it is they don't give you the miles, they keep them and buy the next persons ticket with them, but it was still totally worth it. The first class lounge not only has free wifi, food, drinks/alcohol, tv's computers in their business center. I enjoyed the luggage lockers to stow your stuff while you wandered the airport, shower facilities and sleeping rooms so you can rest.I don't drink because it gives me a headache and makes me tired even if I just have 1, but for those of you with a healthy appetite for drinks you wont be disappointed. As soon as I sat down on the plane they brought me a mimosa, that was my 1 drink I tried, couldn't waste it right??!! The seats on a plane normally just recline a few inches, these seats went all the way back and they gave you a pillow, blanket, sleep mask and sox, as well as a tooth brush. The food was also so much better, they gave you a menu to choose from and they had several entrees, meat or chicken or fish or veggie.The reason the flight was so long is because there was a 12 hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany. see the next post....
Oh yeah, when you fly business/first class the luggage allowance is better too. I had a carry on suitcase, a small backpack and a laptop plus 3 huge 70 pound suitcases. I did have to pay 200 for the 3rd suitcase but I brought basically all my clothes, shoes, purses, make up and vitamins.