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(Coffee) Shop Talk

Welcome to the shop where I talk about things that go well with coffee, which is almost everything.

The following is a distillation of all the things I thought about while walking around Petra by myself for seven-ish hours. It is all rated R for Random.

I’ve decided that I really love Jordan. It’s so chill. No one has harassed me or invited me to do lewd things on the street, my one bargaining experience was short and ended decidedly in my favor, and no one has even attempted to grab any part of my body. Even the cats are friendlier than in Cairo. I had a small, furry, orange creature purring in my lap for ten minutes or so this afternoon, and I didn’t even feed him.

I also love the verticality of Jordan. I’m going to get claustrophobia when I go back to a place where I can’t make a quick climb and see five miles in every direction. Any horizontal distance also involves a significant up- or down-factor, so that going five blocks to the pharmacy is like spending 20 minutes in the gym. Aside from being great for your thighs, it also changes the way you think about space. “Looking around” means looking not only around but up and down. Every few meters you walk, you have a completely different view of your surroundings. You think you’ve gotten the best possible shot of the looming cliffs in the distance, but then you top a rise and everything changes. You scan the sweeping vista around you and conclude that you are alone, and then a fairly large tour group magically pops out of a crevice in the earth that you thought was flat.

The desert country that spreads out after the end of the canyon that contains most of the Petra sight-seeing sights is simply amazing. It’s not exactly off the beaten track, but there wasn’t anyone else out there when I was, except a couple of Bedouins who forced me to drink free tea with them.

(Caveat: I’m not sure what’s in Bedouin tea, but I’m pretty sure it’s not FDA approved.)
(Caveat II: One similarity between Middle Eastern culture and Southern US culture that I particularly enjoy is that both believe “hospitality” means “forcing guests to eat more food than they can possibly digest and drink tea.”)

Other than that, it was just scrubby, rocky hills and cliffs separated by dry, stone-littered stream beds. Walking along the dusty trial, I felt kind of like I was in the Bible. Or Bonanza. (Funny how the great stories of Western civilization all take place in deserts.)

Eventually I returned to the beaten path in search of a toilet. I found it, then had to fend off hoards of people offering me “free” horseback/donkey/camel rides. That trend continued all the way back to the entrance/exit area. I understand that they need to make their backsheesh quotas, but really, if I’m only 50 meters from my destination and I’m still on foot, it’s safe to assume that I do not want to ride your horse the rest of the way. One thing I did enjoy about all those offers, though, is that they all referred to me as “lady” or “madame” even though I was sweaty, dusty, and dressed in t-shirt/pants/sneakers. In this case flattery did not get them everywhere, but it made me happy.

And that is all of the wandering thoughts that I can remember/share with the general public. Thanks for watching.


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