By Emma Kumpf
Relaxation, sand, waves, adventure, smiles, beauty, peace; these are all words I would use to describe my trip to Aqaba. It was completely exhausting yet incredibly fulfilling at the same time. I always love excursions with my program, not only because they offer an opportunity to visit somewhere incredible in Jordan, but also because they offer a chance to hang out with all of my friends more and simply enjoy each other’s company. They say (whoever “they” are) that it’s not the places you go that matter, but the people you are with. Although, I really enjoy the places I go, my adventures in Jordan would definitely not be as incredible as they are without all of the amazing friends that I have made on this trip. I have been blessed with many beautiful friendships in the short time that I have been here and I can’t imagine a better group of people to travel with.
Aqaba was a fun and exciting trip to share with all of these people. We spent our first afternoon in this beautiful city at the beach. However, this was not just any beach; it was the shores of the Red Sea. This is the place where God parted the waters for Moses and the Israelites to cross. It also sits on the bottom tip of Jordan, meaning that across the waters we could see both Egypt and Israel. In addition to these impressive facts, the Red Sea was also just plain old beautiful. It boasted sandy shores, sparkling, blue waters, and a mountainous skyline outlining it. We spent the day here swimming, laughing, and watching the sunset.
There is something about the beach that leads to self-reflection. It stirs something up inside, causing contemplation, imagination, and meditative musings. There is beauty in that. Throughout the afternoon I couldn’t help but think back on what I have done during this trip to Jordan and how much I have learned and grown in the short month and a half that I have been here. The obvious improvement has been in my Arabic language skills. Just the other day my roommates and I were celebrating because we were able to direct our cab driver directly to our apartment. Whereas, when we first arrived, we could barely direct a cab driver to the neighborhood where we live. However, there are other less obvious areas in which I have grown during my time here.
One big thing I am beginning to learn is that people don’t fit into just one neat and tidy little “box.” You can’t just put a label on someone and expect them to behave according to the label. People are unique and no two people are the same. You hear this all the time, but it is one of those life lessons that must also be learned through experience. I am learning that one of the most exciting things in life is discovering that people are so different from what I thought based on a first impression. One of the richest experiences in life is getting to know individuals and being surprised at finding the unexpected beneath the surface. These are just a few of my reflective thoughts brought to you by the power of a little sun and some beautiful scenery.
On our second day in Aqaba, we headed to the beach bright and early, but this time not to stay on the beach. We were boarding glass bottom boats that carried us out into the Red Sea. It was amazing to see the colorful coral and beautiful sea life right beneath our boat! The sun was shining and the crystal waters were sparkling. After seeing much of the underwater scenery, we anchored our boats and jumped out into the welcoming seas to snorkel. Beneath the water, we could see all of the sea life even closer than we were able to from the boat. We were also able to explore a shipwreck on the floor of the seas, and we even spotted a sea turtle. Eventually, it was time to head back and pack up to go home; time to leave this adventure and head home where even more adventures await.