On my first contract with Renaissance Cruises I was real lucky to be doing the Red Sea and one of the exciting stops I had a chance to experience was Aqaba.
This spot I remember for a few reasons because it was in the Gulf of Aqaba that every 7 days when we headed there we were stopped by a US navy patrol ship for inspection because of the trade and arms embargo with Iraq at the time soon after the Gulf War. They wanted to make sure there was nothing coming in through Jordan and it’s main port Aqaba destined for Iraq.
When I took a walk around the port though I saw a lot of containers that were destined for Iraq but whether they were just being held there or not I am not sure.
I remember one time during Ramadan when I went on my own into the city I picked up some alcohol to take back to the ship. You had to make sure it was covered up pretty good. It is during the day the people fast and alcohol is not something you should be seen with during this time. While I was all paranoid about this when I approached the gate to get through security to get back to the ship I couldn’t find my crew card which would get me through. Now here I was looking for this and hoping I hadn’t lost it with some alcohol hidden in the bag I was carrying. I was sweating bullets until I discovered it on me in a place that I normally would not leave it.
Also from Aqaba I went to the Lost City of Petra which was about a 2 hour bus ride and that was really something. Along the way we saw some Bedouins who are the nomads of the country and a road which led into Iraq which the bus driver said probably to put a scare in all the American tourists who were listening. It was I admit pretty creepy to think we were in such a hotbed of political turmoil right at that moment.
All in all I have to say out of all the Arabic countries I was in during the time Jordan was the most western in it’s ways but not the most friendliest. I always felt I was a little too close to the war action going on. I was always glad to be heading out.
But maybe that’s just me…….