Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Transportation stress continued...

Transportation woes continue here in Amman. Last week it was impossible to get a taxi. The Palmers just had a hellish taxi experience. It was our turn today.

As a BYU group, we were all invited to a special screening of a documentary on Palestine and the West Bank. It was going to be really interesting. It was going to be at 7:00 PM. It was going to be at the house of one of the members of the church here, who lives next to some hotel in Shmeisani, a large neighborhood of Amman.

So, Nancy and I went out and got a taxi at 6:30 - plenty of time to spare. The only thing we knew about our destination was an older name for the hotel (which has since been bought out be some other company) - the Taiki Hotel. We flagged down a taxi after fighting with other would-be taxi hailers for 10ish minutes. I told the guy to take us to the Taiki Hotel in Shmeisani and he nodded, acknowledging he knew where the hotel was. Great! We'd get there on time - early, actually.

Two minutes into the drive, he asked me where the hotel was. He got angry when I told him I had no idea. I called Kirk, our program director, and got the real name of the hotel - Star Plaza Hotel. I told the driver and he said "Ah, okay," once again acknowledging that he knew where to go.

Two minutes later, he started yelling at me, demanding to know the address of the hotel. I told him I had no idea, and that he was supposed to know. He yelled back that he didn't have to know - that was my responsibility, to know Amman. I got sick of him, so I asked him to let us out. We weren't at Shmeisani yet - we could get another taxi and still get there.

He refused. He told me that he'd make a deal - he'd take us to the downtown area of Shmeisani and let us get out there, and someone there would be bound to know. I agreed.

As we continued driving, he sped past the exit for Shmeisani. I immediately asked him why, and he responded by telling me he was avoiding traffic. I was wary.

He took us to the good old diwar al-dakhliya - the dreaded place of last week. He saw the first hotel there - the elaborate Royal Jordanian - and said "Here's a hotel - that's the one you want - get out." I knew we weren't in Shmeisani, so I told him, but he said that he couldn't go there. I gave up and got out. Paying him was a hassle - it was 85 piasters, so I gave him a dinar. He "didn't have any change" and wouldn't let me try paying him with any coins I had. So, we were trapped at the interior circle, had just been ripped off 15 cents, and were far from where we wanted to go.

I flagged the first taxi I saw. He pulled over, but after telling him we wanted to go to Shmeisani, he refused and drove away. Ugh. So, we waited for another taxi, who also pulled over and then refused. Nobody wanted to take us.

We went out to the main road and tried getting a taxi there, but rush hour traffic was at a standstill. Any taxis stuck there already had people there. We went to a side road and tried getting a taxi, but failed again. It was 7:10 and we were stuck. We gave up.

The problem with giving up this time was the same as last time - we couldn't get home either. We crossed the death-defying interior circle in rush hour, luckily found a minibus, and headed back up towards home. The fare-dude on the bus ripped us off though and avoided us so we couldn't call his cheating. Grrr...

We decided to not go home yet, but go on to the UJ and eat at the Pizza Hut above the Egyptian falafel place. Good pizza, but the waiter messed up our order and overcharged us. Ugh - ripped off three times in an hour!

Coming home should have been easy - we only live two stops from the UJ - 3-5 minutes. So, with our luck for the evening, what were the chances of a high speed car accident resulting in the chrushing and explosion of two cars, completely stopping traffic, right before our bus stop? Yeah. It happened. We were stuck in the bus for 20 more minutes.

We finally made it home safely, not doing anything we had planned on. Rats! I can't wait until August is over and taxis go back to normal (of course, we won't be here for that...)

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