To Hire a Man or Not

Sign to Wadi Rum Desert Highway Jordan

Planning our excursion into the Wadi Rum desert of southern Jordan and Petra, we debated whether three women traveling alone in Jordan should drive or hire a male driver.

One advantage would be having someone who speaks Arabic.  However, that advantage was greatly offset by my experience with male drivers who drove too fast.  Too fast meaning 120 kph through tunnels marked for a 50 kph speed limit.  Even when asked to slow down, many pretended not to hear me.

None of us smoked.  Not only does the car smell, but I’ve had drivers who, after a couple of smokeless hours, light up even after I asked them not to.

The final advantage was freedom to manage our daily schedule.

When we decided to drive ourselves, my husband officially named us Thelma and Louise.

I booked a mid-size car since the SUVs were double the price.  I figured if the highway was good enough for broken-down Corollas, we would be fine.

Obviously the Eurocar manager felt differently.

Handing over our confirmation and my driver’s license, he looked at me.

“You are driving?” he asked.

“Yes, I am a very good driver” I said smiling.  “We are driving down to Wadi Rum.”

“I am going to drive too,” Louise said handing over her passport.  “Here is my license.”

Reviewing our documents, he made a phone call.

“I upgraded you to a SUV,” he said.  “No extra charge.”

After all the paper works was completed, he gave me his personal mobile number.

“If you have any trouble, please call me directly,” he instructed.

“What a lovely man,” we said, as we walked to the car.

“I was praying we would be upgraded to a bigger car,” Louise said.

Our SUV was an old Pajera that looked like it had been in at least three accidents.  It took nearly fifteen minutes to carefully walk around the car to note every single scratch and dent.

Driving out of the airport, the Pajero rattled so much, I stopped to check whether the back gate was open.  On the dashboard, a yellow light came on but I could not get the manual out because the drawer was broken.  Within a half an hour, the A/C turned off.  We could not seem to get it back on and after an hour pulled over at a restaurant.  I called Mr. Eurocar while Louise checked out the restaurant.

Three, roaming-charged telephone calls, I figured out the problem.  The A/C button had gotten turned off.  By then I was certain Mr. Eurocar’s confidence in our driving skills had gotten even lower.

To be continued…….

ABOUT THE NEW ALIA AIRPORT

The new airport opened on Mother’s Day in 2013.  It is a breeze to float through immigration and collect the baggage.   I think the visas are 20JD.

In baggage claim, if you are facing the Duty Free shops, there is an ATM in the right corner – something Investment Bank.  I withdrew 250JD and was given a mixture of 10s, 20s and 5s, not just large bills.  I thought that was fantastic as most taxis want small change.

The rental car companies – Eurocar, Budget and National? are outside Baggage Claim.  There are a couple more banks and ATMs in that area.

You can book your car reservation online.  You can also book a car and driver through them.  Eurocars has an office in Aqaba also.  If you hire a driver, they will send one up from Aqaba to pick you up in Wadi Rum.  Drivers were 75JD a day.  Whether or not they would be amenable with our dozen photo stops or detours to sites was a question.  You can also book a driver through the Movenpik in Petra.  It was also 70JD.

Note the return time is 6am.  If you arrive later, then you will be charged an extra day.  That became a negotiating point when we returned the car.  Otherwise renting a car was relatively easy.  There are petrol stations all along the Desert Highway (Highway 15).  Coming from the Gulf, the gas seemed expensive.  42JD for 55Liters.

ABOUT THE CARAVANSERAI RESTAURANT

In Sad As-Sultani, about an hour and a half south of the airport, we pulled over into the Caravanserai Restaurant.

This tourist gift shop cum restaurant was clean and set up for large groups.  We ate their “plate” with the choice of chicken or lamb.  It included a huge plate of bread, hummos, rice, spicy salad and cooked vegetables.  We ordered water and coffee.  It all came to 10JD and was very acceptable.  I am comfortable recommending it.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lena
    Oct 08, 2013 @ 11:07:34

    I can’t wait to read more about your adventure! Keep on blogging!

    Reply

  2. Anonymous
    Oct 08, 2013 @ 11:16:20

    You were all very brave to drive there…. we took a driver!

    Reply

    • Eva the Dragon
      Oct 08, 2013 @ 12:03:44

      Ahh perhaps you have not driven in Bahrain. Here people die weekly in crashes on neighborhood roads because they drive too fast. In Jordan, people move to the side and generally drive slower. But I always find it a bit challenging to drive in new places especially as it gets dark.

      Getting around Amman, I find difficult.

      Reply

  3. Eva the Dragon
    Oct 08, 2013 @ 11:59:59

    Thank you. Next Jordan trip will be called the Dreaded Moabite Tour.

    Reply

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