Reality Shites

Trouble usually comes in three. At least that’s all I hope it does because we’ve certainly had our fill and don’t need anymore.

It started with our trip back from Wadi Rum to Amman where we got caught up in a five car dragnet for “speeding”. No radar, no speed camera and no patrolling police car. Just three opportunistic policemen looking to hit their quota for the month. In the end, no real damage done as the fine came to 20 JD when I dropped off the rental. Think of it as a “gift to the Jordanian government” the car rental guy said. If it went to fixing the roads, which are in dire need of repair, then I wouldn’t have a problem. I’m not too convinced that’s where it’s going to end up though.

So we arrived back to Amman after the four hour trip and unpacked the car. Generally, that means I unpack the car, the kids figure out how the Wifi works and Veronica checks out the shower. The kids have brought along five soft toys each, which I also unpack and put on their bed so everyone knows their sleeping arrangements. One, two, three for Emmy. One, two, three for Annabelle. The last two, the most precious and sentimental which have been on board since birth, the ones that were especially picked to come to Wadi Rum . That’s right, they will be in the Wadi Rum bag- I must've left it in the car.

After checking, rechecking and searching our accommodation again, it was very apparent that we’d left one of the bags behind on the back of the truck in Wadi Rum. Without boring people too much with the story, it took about five phone calls to relocate the bag. After that, it took a plan A, plan B and finally a plan C to try and get the bag to Amman. Plan C consisted of a taxi driver taking it to Amman, then giving it to a bus driver, who would drive it to South Bus Station and we’d try and connect up with him to get said bag back.

Fast forward. I don’t speak Arabic. The bus driver doesn’t speak English. Communications and most especially timings were worse than vague. We weren’t even sure of the rendezvous point, let alone what the driver might look like. An ensuing ten phone calls were put through to the bus driver, mostly with the help of our accommodation manager and Uber driver, with each one usually ending with I’ll phone you back (which he never did, prompting another phone call).

Finally, at close to 8pm, two and a half days after we’d noticed the missing bag, I was reunited with the bag and toys. I’m not sure if the kids were happier when the toys had their homecoming, or if I was when I finally got my hands on them. By that stage I was knocking back straight black Turkish coffee courtesy of my Uber driver, so some of my excitement may have been caffeine induced, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had tingles when I saw those cute little toys’ faces peering out of the bag when I opened it up.

Happy much? (photo courtesy of Veronica)

Happy much? (photo courtesy of Veronica)

The worst of the lot came on the morning after we’d checked into our accommodation in Amman, whilst in the middle of trying to sort out Toygate. I wasn’t feeling all that well, with a dodgy tummy which is quite normal for me after about two or three weeks of travelling as I adjust to different foods, water etc Couple with this, I was also stressing a bit about how we were going to get the bag back as everything seemed to be going wrong.

I hooked into our VPN and logged onto the BNZ website to check some banking details, when I noticed that there was a lot of credit card transactions. Under normal circumstances, I’d figure Veronica had been out and about shopping, but these were big expenses (2nd hand clothes don’t tend to cost too much). Somehow, our credit card details had been hacked. Despite all our precautions, and we’d only used the credit card twice physically, our card had been compromised. I felt sick. My stomach felt bloated. I’m not sure that this is the right forum to say this, but the truth of the matter was at that point I tried to release some of the gaseous feeling in my gut. Cue a shart. Seriously, this can’t just have happened. But it did.

Immediately I phoned and emailed our bank and credit card company letting them know what had happened. Currently, I’m at seven phone calls related with this matter, trying to arrange an emergency credit card. All of which is rather difficult when you don’t have roaming and also in a country which doesn’t allow you to make collect calls.

So, why am I relaying all this information? The truth is, that things on the surface never are what they seem. It might look like we’re having a wonderfully fabulous time and in the main we are. Yet, we all still fight, complain, get bored, go hungry, get ripped off and occasionally wonder whether it’s all worth it. And then, we see some amazing sight like the old city of Jerusalem, where we are now, or experience some wonderful piece of human kindness, like I had with my Uber driver who hung around with me at a dodgy bus terminal at night, feeding me cups of coffee, and you realise just how blessed we are to be in a position to experience all these things, both good and bad.

As I write this, just two days ago a group of people committed atrocities in a country that only ten years previously had finally ended a twenty-five year civil war between the Tamil Tigers and Sri Lankan government. In context, our own problems pale into insignificance compared to what the families and people caught up in this violence are going through. I was fortunate to visit Sri Lanka in 1999 but was prevented from visiting large swathes of the country as a result of the ongoing hostilities, which were mostly contained to the north and east of the country. What I discovered when I visited Sri Lanka, was a beautiful country with wonderful people, of both Sinhalese and Tamil ethnicity and my trip was something that I deeply treasure.

Veronica and I both spoke about whether or not our travel plans to the Holy Land should possibly be changed as a result of the terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday. However, we firmly believe that to create peace, we must connect with peoples of different religion, race, and nationality. So, we now travel forward with eyes wide open, knowing that our own fortunes will take a turn for the better as we explore the ancient city of Jerusalem, known as both The Holy One and the City of Peace.