Jordan - the easy life
Since October 10th 2013: 145 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home and min 24 hrs in each country.
Jordan is a welcome oasis to me
They say it takes seven good impressions to weigh out a single bad one. “They” say a lot. I clearly remember most of the hardship I’ve been through to get this far. Now, for some reason I always smile when I see the Jordanian flag and I simply don’t know why?
Back in the Caribbean Erik from USA asked me if I could really call my outfit a uniform since I was the only one wearing it? That’s a pretty good question because I’ve thought a lot about it for years now. I have several of the same polo shirts and t-shirts which I wear everyday. As such I am uniform with myself. I’ve actually got two uniforms now. The one I started out with which is grey and carries the Red Cross emblem. And since the Saga turned four years; the navy blue one with the Saga's logo you guys voted for. If you are wondering why this project hasn’t taken off in a big way yet then join the club. I have no idea but I can talk about it in great length. After all some of the major challenges within the Saga, which now are behind us, would hardly be overcome by anyone else.
I got to rehearse my Danish when I suddently ran into these three wonderful people from back home. We had a great time together.
And the Saga itself is very unique in many ways. For starters this has never been done before which should go a long way in a world where nearly everything else has been tried or done? It’s a good project and I feel I have reason to be proud. The Saga has seen media across about one hundred countries now which is no small thing. My best guess is that we live in an age where it’s hard to distinguish between all the information we receive every day. Is it amazing to snowboard down a massive mountain during the night wearing nothing but fluorescent light? Sure it is! Is it amazing to walk from South Africa to China? Sure is! Now you have a man going to every single country in the world in a single unbroken journey completely without flying for the first time in history. Meh...not that impressive? Well what about the keep on keeping on attitude? Meh...what else do you have? There’s the positive promotion of every country! Look at all the negative media today and the growth of fear in people’s eyes? Meh... Something I hear a lot is people telling me: “just wait...suddenly it will explode!” That sounds right but it has been four and a half year of this now. Let’s see what the future brings...
The Jordan Red Crescent made this wonderful video from my visit: VIDEO :)
The grey uniform is in use when I visit the Red Cross or Red Crescent. It wasn’t appropriate in Syria and I was even requested to turn down a 15 minute Syrian interview on television. Sometimes it’s good to have a low profile. I’ve walked through the front door of the Red Cross or Red Crescent of nearly every one of our 145 countries so far. Looking back I estimate I have spent an average of two days at each National Society which would amount to roughly 400 days across the entire project. That means I would wear it for at least a full year within a six year project. So the grey uniform is certainly in use. The Jordan Red Crescent National Society is really something! I’m quite impressed and sort of sad that they also are feeling the decline in volunteers which is present in most countries. I was in fact corrected as I wrote in last week's entry that the movement has 17 million volunteers world wide. Apparently there is roughly 12 million but really it’s hard to estimate. How much would you need to volunteer to be counted? There are actually official numbers to go by in order to note who’s a volunteer and who isn’t. I’m not a volunteer as I’m a Goodwill Ambassador and I’m not paid for all the work I put into promoting the movement. Except last week the Jordan Red Crescent would't take no for an answer and handed me a check thanking me for what I do. That was a dilemma for me as I’d really like to keep a clean line in terms of finances within Once Upon A Saga. Movement money should go to humanitarian work. However in some cultures more than others it’s very impolite to turn down hospitality and gifts. I didn’t see the amount before the check was cashed. It was $500 DOLLARS!! That was a lot more than what I was comfortable with! Meanwhile my bank account is bleeding dry. Ross Offshore had to pull the financial sponsorship back in 2016 although they love the Saga. I fully understand and that’s sometimes how companies need to prioritize. I sold some of my belongings back home, borrowed money twice and we ran a semi successful crowdfunding campaign last year. The crowdfunded money would only be enough to pay back the loans but hey...there’s always a way. So what happened with the much needed funds I got in Jordan? I donated the full amount to the movements work in Syria. Now here’s how easy it is to donate to the movement. I’m Danish, I’m in Jordan, I donated on the German Red Cross webpage, the money goes to Syria.
Since the Saga completed its first four continents (Europe, North America, South America and Africa) and reached four years of age, I have been wearing the navy blue uniform outside of movement visits (the Red Cross Red Crescent likes to call itself a movement). My clothing is largely supplied by Berghaus in Norway: jacket, fleece, pants and thermo undergarments. My shoes have since the beginning been Solomon. My two bags have been Northface all the way. Berghaus in Norway is a project partner. I doubt Northface not Salomon know that they have been along from the beginning :)
The fantastic Maersk team in Amman, Jordan.
Maersk Line is highly visible throughout the Saga. They are however not an official partner although Maersk has been a great friend. I’ve been on several of their ships and in return I offer free motivational speeches at their offices wherever I can. I did such a presentation in Amman and had a great time with the Maersk team. I’ve done 59 presentations now and 23 of them have been at Maersk offices. I often think of the various people I have met along my now very long way to Jordan. Rakan is a new friend. He is the managing director for Maersk Line in Jordan and has gone out of his way to help me with various things. So have several of his employees. The case being that my fiancée finally arrived and I shaved my beard off! :)
My fiancée is here in Jordan which is great news for the country. I rarely see any of the tourist sites for most countries I visit. The Saga most often demands somewhere between 60-80 hours of work per week. However whenever my fiancée visits we play the part of tourists! And Jordan is just perfect for that. It’s yet another country with an unreasonable amount of tourist attractions compared to its size. How about sending some of those millennia old constructions up to Denmark. From one kingdom to another ;)
At the Citadel in Amman, Jordan.
You could easily book a guided tour from home before coming here. However I wouldn’t bother. I would just book my flight to Jordan (if I was flying) and then make my arrangements here. Jordan is among the world's most hospitable countries and you will have plenty of trustworthy help to arrange for anything you want to do here. The infrastructure is quite good and if you’re not keen on busses then it’s easy and relatively inexpensive to rent a car. That’s what we did! After a day in Amman where we took in some of the sights and devoured several delicious meals, we picked up our car and headed south. Jordan is already a very beautiful country but I figure it did something special for us on our first day out!
Turns out the Middle East doesn't only have snow (Lebanon) it can be green too ;) Jordan you are beautiful!
We decided that with limited time together we wanted to: reach Petra, see Wadi Rum and swim in the Dead Sea. So far so good. On our way to Petra we managed to stop at Wadi Al Moujeb, Karak Castle and also get a stunning view at Dana.
Do you remember Bernhard (Bernie) and Liis from last weeks blog? Well they were able to give us some tips as they also rented a car and they recommended a nice hostel in Wadi Musa near Petra. Petra is not a temple. Petra is a region, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the new Great Wonders of the world. It’s really not hard to comprehend why!! Petra is magnificent!! It’s a massive area so we decided to give it two days. The most famous building in Petra is the Al-Khazneh temple which half the world already knows from Indiana Jones. It is truly amazing especially due to the long narrow canyon which leads right up to it. However it’s far from the largest or most impressive temple in the Petra complex in my opinion.
It’s actually really difficult for me to say what is more impressive and awe-striking at Petra: the intricate structures within the area or nature’s own architecture. The nature is absolutely stunning and would definitely be worth a visit even without the temples and rock-carvings. Petra as a complex is highly well developed for tourism. The visitors center reminded me of entering Disneyland and then it leads on into the canyon which is the perfect way to begin your adventure. There are toilets and opportunities for refreshments throughout the area and it’s clean and organized. Just think of the logistics to freight Coca Cola and souvenirs deep into the canyons and mountains. And the logistics of hauling garbage out. It’s not hard to find souvenirs inside Petra and I’d really encourage you to get something from one of the Bedouin shops just to support their lifestyle.
For unfair reasons tourism is down in Jordan and its mind boggling when you begin to realize what the country has to offer in sights, hospitality, cuisine and how safe and friendly Jordan is...then you just begin to feel like something is wrong? I would suspect that media is at fault for much of the decline. I had an American Lebanese contact me while I was in Lebanon. She lives in the USA and wanted to know if I felt it would be safe for her to visit Lebanon? Lebanon is amazing!! And definitely safe. Jordan is if possible even safer. The media gives the Middle East a bad reputation and to be fair the Middle East does have its share of conflicts. However people are still living here and the Middle Eastern hospitality will surprise you no matter how well you’ve prepared yourself for it. It’s right up there at the very finest level.
Petra at Night, Jordan. Brilliant!
Jordan borders Palestine, Israel, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Those are countries we all know from the media but rarely for uplifting stories. Media has its way and the Saga has its own way. I’m out here to remind you that Saudi Arabia is opening up like never before, Iraq is in many places so safe that most people believe I could travel across land to Baghdad unharmed and that Jordan is full of wonderful experiences just waiting for you to discover.
April 10th, 2018.
How lucky Jordan is to have my fiancée visiting. Now you get to see so much more of Jordan than you otherwise would. And how lucky I am to have her too. Just in general ;)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - Impressed!
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga