Monday, September 13, 2010

Traveling from Oxford to Amman

Our day of travel on September 7 began at 7:45 AM with two friends taking us and our luggage in two cars to St. Clement’s, where we said our goodbyes and caught the coach straight to Gatwick. Everything went smoothly at the airport and our boxes and suitcases were all exactly at the weight limit or up to two kilos shy. We’d forgotten that we had to pay per piece, even though they were in our basic allowance. We were glad that friends had given us £100 because that just covered the additional costs! Thank you, Lord! There were no seats in the area before security check so we sat right on the floor to eat our lunch.

The flight to Latvia was without incident. Ethan slept the whole way. The rest of us liked looking out the windows and seeing the coasts and countrysides of Denmark, Sweden, and finally Latvia. Riga seemed like such an interesting city – it was heartbreaking to not have enough time to leave the airport and see a true glimpse of Latvian life. But we did go through passport control, to get “Riga” stamped in our passports and to sit outside eating a picnic supper. I think the mosquitoes ate as much as we did!

We’d read that Latvia does not use the Euro, but then discovered that Euros can be used in the airport. We had some left over from our trip to Spain and used them getting a few ice-creams for everyone. I tried to buy a bottle of water for the flight, but by mistake bought carbonated water. None of the kids liked it much!

The second half of our journey was much longer. Not only was the flight an hour longer, but we sat in the airplane for an hour before ever taking off, waiting for a few late passengers. Hardly surprisingly, our kids did not fall asleep. They played on the plane’s floor, playing “spies,” and even used a plane blanket to make a little “tent.”

We finally arrived at the Queen Rania airport at 1:30 AM. The kids and I waited for Steve to get money out of an ATM to pay for our visas, which cost 10 JD (Jordanian Dinars) each. The whole process was painless and quick, and we were so happy to see a man holding a sign that said “Steve Gertz” as we exited the passport control area. Steve’s Arabic school, Qasid Institute, provides airport transportation for all their students. Steve went in one car with Josiah, while I travelled in another with Naomi and Ethan.

I’d forgotten that many countries, including Jordan, tend to not have working seatbelts in the backseat. I found myself praying fervently as we raced down the highway at 70 mph, in “interesting” Jordanian fashion. Qasid Institute also provided a free phone call "home" so I got to talk to Steve's mom and let her know we'd arrived safely.

We arrived at our new house at 2:30 AM and our sweet landlords were still up, cheerfully welcoming us and ready to show us around. Josiah had fallen asleep on the ride home, and wouldn’t stir even to eat a sandwich. The other kids were starving so we all ate something before heading to bed. 20 hours after it had begun, our day of travel was finally over. That is, until we were awakened an hour later by drumming and the call to prayer!!

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