Aqaba! — part 2

13 Nov

[continued from “Aqaba! — part 1”]  Sunday’s evening activities included a walking tour of the Royal Jordanian Yacht Club as well as the little downtown circle lit by “Christmas” lights.  The yacht photo backdrop features Israel’s “San Francisco,” Eilat, by night, and the photos below feature one of Jordan’s many traffic-lightless traffic circles.  In Aqaba, the taxis that spin around and around it seeking passengers are neon green (as opposed to yellow like all the other taxis we’ve seen in Jordan).

Along with the green taxis, Aqaba also has the most grass we’ve seen in the 3 months we’ve been in Jordan.  In our wandering around the little downtown area near the hotels, we stumbled upon this especially green tuffet of grass.  I (Rachel) had to take my shoes offand stand in it.  Ahh…

Our Monday and Tuesday (our last two days in Aqaba), we decided to take our hotel up on an offer it has with a private beach resort-type place.  Considering the cost of getting to and from the beaches (about a 15-20 minute drive) by taxi ($20-30 round trip!), and considering the cost of going to a private/hotel beach ($30-40/person) where Rachel could comfortably swim and not be gawked at by locals expecting women to be mostly covered, we decided to take our chances at a Tourism Investment called “Berenice.”  (That’s not the woman’s name, “Bernice,” as I initially thought, haha!)  And we were VERY glad we did!  The little resort was quite new and had clean showers/bathrooms, an outdoor restaurant, multi-level lounging areas and pools, a beautiful clean stretch of beach, and a jaw-dropping view.  Sorry, but the photo doesn’t do it justice — upon entry, it appears that the forever pool is overflowing down into the Red Sea.  So nice.

The hours that we spent at Berenice were the highlight of the trip for me (Rachel).  We sat in the warmth of the sun and took in the fresh air; we even read a little.  And of course, we snorkeled again (thanks, Fred & Deb for lending us your equipment!).  The coral and fish here was even more impressive than at the public beach.  There were mounds of coral various sizes, from sofa-sized ones to those as large as several cars parked side by side.  And the sea floor dropped sharply from about 40 feet off shore, creating the sensation that we were floating in the sky and looking down on a hill.

Phillip and I amazed ourselves because we were able to swim around for more than an hour and a half without expending that much energy.  Why?  Because the Red Sea, the world’s northernmost tropical sea, has on average a salinity 4-5% higher than the rest of the world’s large bodies of water.  Due to low annual rainfall (just a few centimeters), high evaporation, and the fact that its small mouth to the Indian Ocean doesn’t allow much dispersion of water, the salt content is high.  This makes people (and fish, I suppose) more buyont.  And it made us feel the need to spit more frequently, too.  Salty!  It was quite unbelievable, once again, and I have never had a better underwater experience.

Across from our side of the shore lies the mountains of Israel and Egypt’s Sinai Penninsula (left photo).  And about 8 miles down the coast from where we were is Saudi Arabia.)

The highlight of the trip for Phillip was not far from Berenice’s pier that jutts out into the sea.  Before calling it a day Monday, Phillip decided to make one more snorkeling pass next to the pier.  He met face to face with two lion fish about 5 feet from him!  Most of our experiences with fish of this variety have been limited to nature documentaries or aquariums at best, but in Aqaba, we were able to swim with the fish in their natural habitat — and even reach out and touch the corals and anemone.  What an unmatched swimming opportunity!  Needless to say, we were not eager to return to the cold weather city life of Amman.  Guess we’ll just have to plan our next trip back to the Red Sea… care to join us?

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2 Responses to “Aqaba! — part 2”

  1. Kevin November 14, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    Wow. What a beautiful place! An inspiring set of blog posts. It’s great to see you guys having so much fun.

  2. Hanna brown November 4, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    Hi !
    I came home from aqaba last night (i live in sweden) and i just love reading about your aqaba experience, i’m glad you liked berenice it’s such a beautiful place and lets not even start on the view… Gosh i wanna take the next plane down there

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