So I arrived in Amman around 4 p.m. My memory is hazy, but I think the flight was about 10 hours. I slept fitfully, but at least I slept. (Royal Jordanian Airlines, by the way, is incredible. We had two really good meals and the nicest flight attendants.) After making our way off the plane, our merry band—there are 12 of us, just like the apostles!—were quickly guided to the desk where we got our visas.
Then, it was off to baggage claim to get our bags (almost no wait at the carousel) and meet our guide for the next 10 days, Ra’ed (the fellow below on the left). He’s spent his entire life in the Middle East, but I swear he sounds like a New Yorker to me.
I’m having a good time getting to know some of my companions on this journey—bloggers from all over the place, including a few from Patheos. I got to meet, at last, the elusive and mysterious Max Lindenman. For a man of towering intellect and incredible verbal dexterity, he’s awfully short. (I say this as a man who, even on his best days, is straining to reach 5’8.”)
After breaking into groups to visit teller windows and exchange our dollars for dinars, we loaded on our bus and began the 40-minute ride to our hotel.
We’re staying at the Amman Sheraton. As with many places these days, there is heightened security: every time you enter the hotel, you have to pass your bags through an x-ray machine, step through a metal detector, and be frisked. It’s almost like going through the TSA at the airport. It’s quick and easy, though—and, I should add, reassuring. They leave nothing to chance.
The hotel is quite swanky, as you can tell from the bathroom in my room.
After getting settled, we walked a few blocks to Whispers, a nearby restaurant. Among other things, it has a tank in the middle of the dining room occupied by a couple of sharks.
Dinner was a delicious and exotic “mixed grill” of various types of seafood, wraps, chicken and spring rolls, prepared in sauces that left us swooning. Being Americans, there was only one thing we could do: take pictures of our food.
So far, it’s all off to a great start. Our fearless leader, Christine Moore from the Jordan Tourism Board, is taking very good care of us. Tomorrow, we hit the road to see some sites. A highlight will be attending the Easter Vigil Saturday evening at a Melkite Catholic church.
Thank you all, meantime, for the many warm wishes for a safe trip. At the sacred liturgy tomorrow, I’ll be carrying the intentions of The Bench readers with me—along with a heart full of gratitude for being able to embark on this journey. More to come! Stay tuned.