A TV show I like, NCIS, this week mentioned Aqaba and Eilat which brought back more memories of places I've lived in the world. From July 2007 through November 2007, I lived in Aqaba, Jordan and worked at a container terminal helping them start their process improvement program. Here's a picture of the Aqaba Container Terminal.
Aqaba is Jordan's only seaport, at the very southern end of Jordan, right next to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel, which all join on the finger of the Red Sea east of the Sinai peninsula. The below picture was taken from my apartment in Aqaba, and looks over the end of the Gulf of Aqaba to Eilat, Israel. In my 5 months in Aqaba, I never went to Eilat. When other countries see that you have an Israeli stamp in your passport, things tend to get a bit difficult, so I decided not to chance it.
Aqaba and southern Jordan is one of the most beautiful places on earth (at least in my opinion), in a very rugged and desolate way. The history there is longer than many places on earth. My father visited, and we got close to Lot's cave (closed for repairs), swam in the Dead Sea and brushed our fingers in the Jordan River. The below picture is of Wadi Rum, which is 45 minutes north of Aqaba, and where you can spend the night under the stars, hosted by bedouins. I made a promise to myself while under those stars that I would make an effort to bring more stars into my life - the beginning of the changes that brought me to this mountain in New York.
I got to experience the hottest time of year there, routinely 120 degrees F, and in September the Muslim month of Ramadan. Ramadan is a month of fasting from sunup to sundown, intended as a time of reflection and worshipping Allah and becoming better people and better Muslims. The evening breaking of the fast is a celebration of family and togetherness, and the month was very quiet during the days, and very noisy at nights. One day I was driving to Amman along the desert highway and noticed as sunset came near, that truckers were stopping near other truckers so they would not break their fast alone. They spread blankets out and gathered in groups for dinner as the sun set.
I found through the course of my year in the world that I'm not a natural world traveller. I was uncomfortable more often than not, and often struggled. But the people were very nice - everywhere! If you haven't already, you will notice a recurring theme on this blog. How lucky I am to have been able to experience all of this! I may wish my life were different in some substantial ways, but it has already been very, very good.