Day 24: Wadi Rum - Aqaba
Aqaba Travel Blog› entry 45 of 54 › view all entries
We finally arrived in Aqaba around 6 in the evening. Will was able to make a deal with the driver that he could tag on to Wadi Musa where the driver lived at no extra cost, so that he would be able to go to Petra tomorrow, saving him a day. So we said our goodbyes and then it was just the two of us again - for the first time in a week.
Aqaba is lies at the northern end of the Gulf of Aqaba, which in its turn is an estuary of the Red Sea. Across the water lies Eilat, Israel, literally at a stone's throw away. Slightly further left is Taba, the resort in Egypt that was the site of a terrorist bombing several years ago. And if you walk down the beach of Aqaba and follow it for 12 kilometres you're in Saudi Arabia. That is four countries within 17 kilometres of coastline!
Aqaba is the only connection Jordan has with the open sea, which makes it a very important city. It is the second city of Jordan and in order to stimulate both tourism and trade the entire city has been made a duty free zone. In other words, the whole of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and -oddly- Hungary come to Aqaba during its balmy winters to celebrate holidays and, more importantly, to shop!
Because of Labour day next Tuesday this weekend was a bank holiday weekend for Jordan, meaning that they had the Sunday off as well (yes, I too had to think a moment about that logic). This resulted in the city being very full with people when we arrived. I had phoned ahead to a hotel, so fortunately we had a reservation.
The city seemed a very pleasant beach town, and the bustling streets reminded me more of a city in southern Spain than the Middle East.
I couldn't really enjoy any of it though, as I felt as if I was on the verge of collapsing. The camel ride had demanded quite a bit of my body and all muscles in my body ached, especially in my back, not to mention my arse which was so bruised I could barely sit.
I think I may have had a minor heat stroke as well (which still puzzles me how, as we hadn't really see any sun all day because of the haze). I had a fever and felt generally miserable. But, as is so often the case, an early night in a comfortable bed did miracles!