bus to Aqaba
Up early this morning, a quick breakfast and we headed into Rum Village to take the bus to Aqaba. Awad did try. Last night, he knew Anna wanted to ride a camel, and wanted to organise one to take us to the village, however we had to decline, as it would mean an even earlier morning, and was too expensive.
The trip into the village was uneventful, and we were dropped off almost outside Awad’s house. It did not look like a bus stop, but his wife Fatima was here waiting for the bus as well, so it could not be too bad.
After a long while of listening to the donkeys and roosters wake up, the bus arrived. It was already basically full, but they managed to squeeze us on. We were stuck in the isle, between the bags and nowhere to go. After we left the village, the bus stopped and we were told to get off. Thinking the worst, we were worried. However it was so the driver could go through and collect the fares. After collecting ours, we were allowed back onto the bus. A bit further along we were all told to sit down. The only problem was there was nowhere to sit. Anna and I ended up stuck in the well beside the door, and the others in the isle. It was an uncomfortable trip to Aqaba, but at least it was better than our “Taxi” ride the other day.
On arriving in Aqaba we walked downtown. At least from this bus stop it was not too far. We checked in on a number of hotels, and eventually found one that was in our budget, and on first appearances was clean. It still had no hot water, but at least the water tank was on the roof and could be heated during the day. On closer inspection, there was a nice hand print on the wall that has been there for however long. All it needs is a quick wipe to remove it, but we decided to leave it, maybe with our date added underneath, to see how long it will take to be removed. However we will never know the result. The bedding was also not clean. On going back out we saw a french couple that we had met at the bus stop. We asked about their room, and they had an even dirtier one in a different hotel, so I think we got out of it well. We were talking to the owner the next day, and he asked how it was. Andrew said so/so and he asked why. We mentioned the sheets, and the bonus of TV and Air Conditioning. Andrew had not realised he was the owner, and on finding out said that if he had known he probably would not have said anything. We had a good laugh, and I think he appreciated the honest information.
We had a quick exploratory trip around the downtown area and took a taxi to the beach. There is a beach in the town itself, but we wanted to go snorkeling. We bought two sets, and got the taxi. We asked for Black Rock,as it is listed in the guide bookas being one of the best spots. The driver said he knew it, and drove almost all the way to the Saudi border (12km) away before stopping and asking for directions. He then did a u-turn and dropped us at the closest beach. This was not black rock, but as there were a lot of people here, we thought it would be ok, and left it at that. Finding a spot under an umbrella, Anna and I got changed, while Sophia and David ran straight in.
While we were putting sunscreen on, They returned holding David’s hand. We thought they were putting us on, until we saw their faces. As they got closer, we could see that David was covered in blood. Sending Sophia off to find a first aid tent (or a lift to hospital if needed) Andrew wrapped David’s hand in our towel. People came running up, and asked for a cigarette. We thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t. They needed it for the heat. He had put his hands on a sea urchin, and a lot of spines had broken off in his hand.
The heat from the cigarette would cause the spines to shrivel up like plastic and most of them popped out of the skin. There were still a few bad ones in the hand, but these guys were not worried, and said that he would be right within two days. It still did not look good though.
After this incident, we decided we would still go swimming. Trying out our new snorkel sets, we found the bands were not big enough for our heads. Tying two of them together seemed to work, but in the water we could not create a seal. This was not a problem, as the water never got deeper than our knees anyway. Walking out into the water, we were now paranoid about the sea urchins. This was well founded as we got a bit deeper and they were in every nook and cranny. There was also coral here, but most of it was young, and not that well developed. There were also some small schools of fish, but it was not the best site to be. Giving it up, we returned to shore, and hung out for a while. On the way out, we saw the park rules. These included wearing footwear into the ocean. A wise rule. Still we got to swim in the red sea.
We were a bit worried about getting back to town, as we were a fair way out, but on the other side of the road we almost immediately found a taxi to take us back.
That was about it for the day. Enough adventure to last us a while!