Monday, July 20, 2009

Amman and Home

13 July:
Our decision not to drive to Wadi Rum before heading back to Amman was vindicated when we drove back to Amman from Petra. Saber ( ) picked us up at 8.30 for the four hour drive back to Amman along the desert highway.
With a stop off for a visit to a souvenir stall and lunch at Tawaheen Al-Hawa (The Windmill) restaurant in central Amman we didn't get back to the hotel till 3.30pm.

Woman making breads for customers at Tawaheen Al-Hawa Restaurant
If we'd done the Wadi Rum side trip we could have added an extra five hours to the day which would have made it somewhat exhausting especially as we had to repack our bags in preparation for the long trip home the next day.
The meal at Tawaheen Al Hawa was beautifully prepared and presented - a generous platter of "starters" - hummous, pickles, salads, olives... followed by a mixed grill of chicken, lamb and beef and topped off with coffee and water-melon which proved the theory that taking a long, lingering lunch is one of the pleasures that needs to be cultivated and practised often!
Back at the hotel we repacked our bags for easier travel - especially as we had picked up a few more souvenirs of our travels than we'd started with. Joy had had great fun bargaining for a silver arabic styled mirror and several other tangible memories of our trip at different stops along our way which meant we needed to ensure that our packing allowed us access to our immediate needs while protecting the articles.
Outside our hotel the street was hosting a wedding which, like the others we'd passed by in our first days in Amman and, later, in Petra, meant a parade of cars as the groom and his family set off to bring the bride back to the ceremony, lots of excited chatter as the guests arrived and prepared for the arrival of the couple and, as the call for prayer echoed over the street, lines of men facing Mecca praying before the wedding celebrations began in earnest. Then, as the wedding neared its end a series of firework displays climaxed the evening.
The next day it was on to Dubai for an overnight before the 15+ hour trip home to N.Z.

Our brief stop-over in Dubai allowed us to take a walk through the Mall of the Emirates - one of the huge shopping malls that provide tourist destinations in the city-state. Here the attraction is the ski-slope which provides the chance for people to go skiing in the middle of a desert! Otherwise the mall was like every other shopping mall one can see and experience anywhere in the world. So, unless one was a shopping mall addict, as far as we were concerned this was a good excuse to enjoy a walk in air-conditioned comfort after sitting in an airplane constraint for much of the day.

The next day we flew on in the Airbus 380 to Auckland and home and the organisation needed to allow us to return to the Gulf sometime in August.

The Welcoming committee
We were welcomed home by a boisterous and enthusiastic scrum of family and grand-children who draped themselves on our legs and arms as we existed the customs hall and entered the winter damp of an Auckland afternoon.

Now begins the setting up and organisation for a new experience in the Gulf later in the year.

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