Today we head to Petra, Jordan. We are crossing the border via the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge. You cannot drive a vehicle from Israel into Jordan across this bridge. It was a bit confusing to me and now I cannot remember the sequence. We took a bus from Jerusalem to the bridge; then, I think we went through a check-in place; then we had to take a Jordanian bus to another stop. I think we had to go through some other security thing; then, we were able to contract with a taxi to take us on the several hour drive to Petra.
I suspect I cannot remember it properly because at the first check-in I asked the woman what the rate of exchange was between US dollars and Jordanian dinars. I thought I heard her say there were three dinars to the dollar, but on the bus drive, Noelle and Alexei were trying to tell me it was three US dollars to one dinar.
I couldn’t get it; my brain would not compute! First they just laughed at me, then they got frustrated, then they gave up! When Noelle finally said, “Linda, the dollar is weaker!!”, a little glimmer of light came into my brain, but, it kept hitting the brick wall of programming I had accepted when I thought the woman had said just the opposite. I am sure this is why I don’t remember anything else about that crossing; my brain was so focused on solving the conflicting input!
By the end of the crossing, I was able to grasp that the dinar had more value than the dollar, but, trying to do the exchange rate in my head would be a problem the whole time I was in Jordan. I became aware of how hard it was for me to process through the conflicting perceptions and how my urgent need to solve it diminished my experience of whatever else was happening around me. I wondered how often that happened. I am not conscious of it happening very much, but, what if it happens on an unconscious level too? What a sucky thought!
Finally, we were in our taxi in Jordan and on our way to Petra. We would be staying in a town called Wadi Musa which is at the entrance to Petra. Alexei had found us another low budget hotel that would allow us to be within walking distance of the entrance; great for our day long trip tomorrow.
Yeah, we usually stayed in hotels that were, oh, maybe two star, maybe one star, but they were always clean and centrally located. Eventually though, Noelle was going to get a bit tired of our bathrooms and she immortalized them with the following picture:
It was a beautiful day for the road trip from the border to Petra. At one point I looked back over the Dead Sea to Israel and said goodbye.
Honestly, I am not sorry to be leaving Israel and that saddens me a bit. There is so much significant history there for me. Although I was born a Catholic and had been involved in Christianity in a variety of denominations as a young adult, my maternal great-grandparents were Russian Jews who came to America during the Bolshevik revolution. I don’t even know my great grandmother’s real last name because when she came to Ellis Island as a child, her last name was changed. As an adult she ended up meeting and marrying another refuge whose last name was Levine. It is through the maternal blood line that one is born Jewish. I learned all of this as an adult, but, I have always felt a resonating connection with Israel and Judaism even as a child. This plus the background in Christianity made Israel a place I had wanted to visit.
However, the energy there was sad to me. Grant it, I never met Jewish nor Palestinian folks living in the suburbs, but, the energy I did experience always had an underlying wariness. I totally understand why this is so, I just think it is so sad to live in that state of guardedness. It didn’t feel like anyone could ever relax, be happy, and enjoy their life. Also, I have to admit that the Jews I did meet were pretty darn arrogant in their manner. It often made me shake my head and laugh. Later when I mentioned this to my Israeli friends in the US, they laughed and agreed that it is so.
As we travelled in Jordan, the energy changed. I felt very comfortable and I loved it when I got my first sight of Bedouin tents:
I enjoyed the terrain as we travelled along the coast and then inward toward Petra:
We arrived in Wadi Musa and our hotel was right on the main street. After signing in, we went to our rooms where I felt my heart sink. Uh oh, this place is really bad. I am not even gonna unpack or take off my clothes to lie on that bed. I went to the bathroom and there wasn’t any toilet paper. I looked at Noelle, she looked at me and we said, “No way!” Fortunately, Alexei felt the same way.
This hotel was a falling star!
We went for a walk and found a nice three star hotel even closer to the Petra entrance. We would all be sharing the room and that was okay with me. Even better, they had Turkish baths!! I had told Alexei that sometime on this trip I wanted a massage and he had told me that the last time he had been in Petra with two other female companions the women had enjoyed having Turkish baths. So, I had planned on having one in Petra. Lucky for me, our hotel did them and the guy who ran that department was right there at the hotel check in desk. The hotel gave myself and Noelle a discount for being guests. Yay for us!
We went to the bath area where we met our attendants. Guess who? One was the young guy I had met in the lobby who runs the bath. I will call him, “Cutey Pie” and the other was a man maybe in his early thirties that I will call, “Manly”.
Yeah, we got male attendants. Okay, I don’t think this will be a problem. I have had massages by male masseurs before.
First, Noelle and I get naked with large towels wrapped around our bodies and we enter a steam room. Noelle is sitting near the door and I am on the bench at right angles to her. “Manly” told us that if we got too hot, to just come out, cool off and come back in. We would be here for 20 minutes. Whew, that steam was hot and thick. I couldn’t see my own hands. After about 10 minutes the steam decreased and I saw a man enter, do something in the room, and then leave.
“Noelle, was that guy naked?”
“I think so; just the towel on him.”
Uhmm, maybe this is a coed kind of place. Hmmm.
The steam came back on full force. Near the end of the 20 minutes, it decreased a bit and “Manly” came in. I realize he is the naked guy! He pours cool water over Noelle’s head and she squeals, “Ooooo!” Then he opens her towel, exposing her naked body, pours cool water on it and starts rubbing her down from her feet, up her legs to her belly and even her boobs.
Noelle keeps squealing, “Ooooo…Ooooo…Ooooo!”
Uh oh, I am next.
And yes I was… be cool, Linda. Oh ai yi yi yi!
Then “Cutey Pie” comes in and he is wearing a towel too. Both men lead us out of the steam room and have us lie on these hot marble bench like structures to rest. They keep coming over and pouring cool water on us. Each time they do, Noelle exclaims, “Ooooo!”
After a few minutes, “Manly” reaches out his hand to Noelle and takes her to his room. “Cutey Pie” takes me to his room. I lie face down upon a large warm marble “bed” where CP begins to scrub and rub my body from my feet to my head.
That’s when it hits me; Oh my God, a Turkish bath is a bath!! Duh, Linda, you are sooo slow! “Cutey Pie’s” hands are all over me. I can still hear Noelle exclaiming, “Ooooo…Ooooo!”.
Pretty soon, CP is using oils to massage my body. It feels great and I tune out Noelle so that I can just get into it.
After a bit, “Cutely Pie” says okay. I rolled over and sat up, but he said, “No, no, not done. Lie on back.”
Oh yeah. This is not my first massage; I know it’s time for the front. How did I forget that? Are you just a little distracted, Linda?
I laid back down and he began “a-scrubbing and a–rubbing” my entire front body including boobage and in between my legs, though not crackage. Oh my God! WhatI would do if he did?
We will never know, cuz he di’int.
By now it is quiet in Noelle’s room and I wonder if she is getting laid.
My little “Cutey Pie” is now softly singing to me as he finishes cleaning me and then starts to massage me. Aside from my feet being ticklish, ahhh, it feels gooood and I relax!
When he indicated he was done, I sat up. He started tickling my feet and laughed as I giggled and twisted them out of his reach. Then he handed me my towel and brought me back to the changing room.
It was still quiet in Noelle’s room.
I was showered and dressed by the time she showed up.
She said, “My body was so slippery with oil that when I sat up from the massage, I slid across the table and knocked all of “Manly’s” equipment off.”
Oh man, only Noelle could do that!
I went out and drank tea with the guys. I found out that “Cutey Pie” has been doing this work for about ten years and that “Manly” has done it for maybe four years. They are both trained masseurs and enjoy their work. Noelle finally joined us and after a brief visit, we left.
“It got pretty quiet in your room; I was hoping you were getting laid.” I smiled.
“No, the massage was hurting. I think I am going to have bruises.”
“Bummer. I like my scenario better!”