The first thought I had was, “If I did yoga as inconspicuously as possible in a deserted and hopefully clean corner of this Middle Eastern airport, I wonder just how blatant the stares and whispers would be.”
The second was, “I have a pleather jacket, a laptop and a laptop case. Think Tetris-style. What formation of these three things would create the best pillow?”
I was getting off the plane in Amman, Jordan, for an eight-hour layover and I meant business.
But as I walked into Queen Alia International Airport, what followed was far more wonderful than what I had planned: Jordan treated me like a princess.
After being in the country for approximately 45 seconds, and before any kind of critical thinking kicked in (or maybe even regular thinking), the airport personnel were whisking me around, figuring out where I needed to go, putting me in the correct lines for the right transit documentation, refusing to let me do any kind of logistical planning of my own.
It was great.
See, I usually prefer to think for myself. And while this usually leads to inefficiency, confusion, a good time and ultimately, beer, I like the sense of accomplishment I feel if things go somewhat right. That usually calls for a beer as well.
So when the airport staff, which I will henceforward refer to as “my Jordanian princes” are saying things like, “voucher for dinner” and it turns into “voucher for hotel” and ends up meaning “voucher for first class treatment,” I will take a backseat.
My Jordanian airport princes sent me to a sweet hotel, gave me a room I really didn’t need, and got me back (and through security swiftly) without letting scammers even look at me.
It was great.
Most of my time at the Golden Tulip, however, was spent in the hotel bar talking to the manager about the ruins in Petra, the Dead Sea, and why I need to come back to Jordan.
The Dead Sea, eh? Tell me more about this Dead Sea, I told him.
It’s one of the saltiest bodies of water on Earth. Four times saltier than our oceans. Basically nothing can survive in it because of the salinity, hence the name. You don’t swim there; you float. And the floating is apparently epic. It’s like being in an invisible recliner, but you’re just bobbing in water; a pig in shit.
Hotel manager tells me it’s not a great place for diving. It takes me awhile to understand why.
After a Heineken and a vodka tonic, and after wondering why the hell am I drinking anything with tonic water this stuff needs sugar, I go back to my room to freshen up before heading back to the airport. “Freshening up” here meaning 10 minutes of yoga, a good brushing of the teeth, rolling around on the California king bed (let’s be real, I wasn’t going to leave that bed untouched), and 25 minutes of watching Arab music videos while trying to simulate the bellydancing.
Two hours before my flight departs, I’m taken back to the airport. I’m pretty sure there was a cavalcade of armed guards in black sedans surrounding the vehicle I was in on the way back, but I could be wrong.
Back at the airport, I’m again discouraged by my Jordanian airport princes from exerting any effort into figuring out where I’m going. I became fearful to make eye contact with any of my Jordanian princes; doing so seemed to indicate to them that I needed help finding my way around, or had some kind of question, or needed some kind of support. Being looked after so well was dreadfully difficult. Just kidding.
So as I stood in line waiting to board the plane to Bangkok, I thought to myself, “this must be what it’s like to be a princess.”
Sure, everyone else was thinking, “that was a pretty standard eight-hour layover.” But they don’t know the secret to life: have no expectations! Shit can potentially end up being awesome if you expect the worst.
Which is why when I go back to Jordan, and swim in the Dead Sea, I don’t expect to float. Hell I’ll probably sink. We’ll just see what happens.
If I Go Missing: I often find myself in scenarios where I think, “what a great way of life,” or “I could do this for a living,” or “this has retirement written all over it.” For those instances, I’ve created this series in an effort to let my loved ones know where I might be if I disappear and escape ordinary life.