Amman, Jordan 30 Miles to Jerusalem

Can you even call a 17 hour layover a layover? That’s long enough that you really have to consider putting down roots.

At Turkish passport control, I was in line with 50 middle-aged Russian women. They are much better at waiting in line than me. They seemed to glide past while I was standing still. Are the rules of line-waiting different in Russia? I always found them to be basic and immutable.

Clearly, none of these women are poor. One does not have initials embroidered across one’s handbag unless one has money to burn. Their glitter red alligator print jackets identify them as aristocrats. Someone had to go out into the jungle and hunt down those glitter red alligators, you know? That doesn’t come cheap.

Am I missing something about Duty Free? What’s the big deal? Who are the raging alcoholics who need to save a buck on Chivas Regal?

Obviously, I had a lot of time on my hands. One good thing about Istanbul’s airport, and really the only thing that ever matters: free wi-fi. I finished up a project I’ve been working on for a while. I put every place I’ve ever been into Google Earth.

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It has all my travel dates, loads of pictures, and links to journal entries.

I haven’t worked out how to put a link on my map page yet that will open straight into Google Earth, so for now, just right click (or whatever you mac people do) on this link and save the target file, then open it in Google Earth. If that doesn’t work for you…give me a week or two to sort it out.

There are some typos and little things here and there that aren’t quite how I’d like them, but that’s just life, isn’t it? The more important flaw — and believe me, I’m well aware — is that this isn’t actually interesting to anyone but myself. It’s too much information and it’s too fiddly.

My next goal is to boil it down into something friendlier and more presentable: a map of all the places I’ve ever shot a dancing clip. I plan to attach an image from each scene to the markers as well as a short blurb about how it was shot. It’ll be sort of like a coffee table book, except not a book and you won’t be able to put it on a coffee table.

Midnight flight into Jordan. Anyone ever sat in a plane seat with those fold-down foot rest bars? They’re amazing. If you’re over 5’8", they serve no purpose, cause you’re legs are too long to actually rest on them. And in their folded-up state, they sit at just the right height to scrape against your shin bone through the entire flight. What a marvelous addition to the air travel experience!

Someone must have packed a container of jam in the luggage directly on top of mine. It exploded at altitude and leaked all over my bag. When I picked it up off the carousel, I got a nice surprise: hands covered in sticky, purple goop.

I don’t know why I took this picture.

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After two consecutive overnight flights and 48 hours without a bed, I decided to treat myself to a Day’s Inn. I booked on Expedia from the airport. Checking in at 3am is rarely a good idea, so I hung out in baggage claim until dawn, way too exhausted to fall asleep.

When I showed up at the hotel, they had no record of my booking, which I’d already paid for online. I told them I booked on Expedia. They said it must be a "fake" site because it didn’t appear in their records. The guy looked at my bloodshot eyes, though, and I guess took some pity on me. He put me up in a room and said we’d straighten it out later.

I smelled so bad, I couldn’t go straight to sleep. Instead, I slid into the tub and promptly fainted. The tub was too small for me, so my legs were pressed up against the bathroom wall. When I came to, my legs had been like that for over an hour. If I’d just fallen asleep normally, the awkward position would have woken me up, but I evidently passed out. When I tried to get up, I found I couldn’t move my legs. I had to crawl across the room to get into bed.

What I’m trying to say here is: the last couple days haven’t been terribly thrilling.

I’ve got two full days left in Jordan and I’m going to try to make an adventure of it. I’m thinking of heading down to Wadi Rum and seeing what I can see. I hope to find some Bedouins who will dance with me.

Looking at the map, I realize I’m about 30 miles from Jerusalem. I was there less than two months ago shooting a commercial for an Israeli travel agency. It’s 30 miles, but it feels like a thousand. I had a similar experience in Kuwait, looking out to Iran and Iraq only a few miles off the coast. Geography cedes to politics here. Tiny distances separate discrete worlds. And the dividing lines have been moving around for as long as civilization.

Of course this region is in constant turmoil. It’s not about religion. It’s not about oil. It’s about pressure differentials. Weather patterns. It’s thermodynamics, friends. Thermodynamics!

6 Responses to Amman, Jordan 30 Miles to Jerusalem

  1. It’s been a while since I’ve used Google Earth – very interesting mapping! Perhaps I’ll do the same for my trips and share them with you (:

    Now that you’re putting picture in PicasaWeb do you plan to go back and add older collection to your public gallery? If you map them in PicasaWeb they are available in Google Earth as well.

    Google scares me sometimes. I think one day I’m going to wake up and I’ll be replaced by a downloadable Google app.

    Enjoy your travels, keep taking more pictures,

    — Paul

  2. TELI

    What? you haven’t been to rome? or rio de janeiro? or ayers rock? or barcelona? or borobodur? or xian?

    it is a big planet after all.

  3. What’s up Matt; I’m an ex-video-game-programmer-gone traveler who’s been reading your blog since well before the whole Stride Gum adventure. I’m in Jerusalem at the moment, heading to Petra/Wadi Rum, then to Egypt. If you’re interesting in dancing (I might have a group of up to 10), shoot me an email and I’ll send u my international cell # :)

    (You might get a kick out of the TravelLog on my website as well – it’s an AJAX utility I cooked up to convert Google Earth KML files to embedded GMaps, and the end result looks pretty damn similar to yours. There’s also an on-the-fly updated thumbnail of my current location on the main page.

    :)

    J~

  4. How’s the line for waiting for a visa in Turkey? I’ll be there in a few weeks and will be arriving at 2am from Barcelona.

    Kudos on the long flights and layovers…now I don’t feel so badly about my recent adventures…puts it all in perspective O:-)

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