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Bad Math

9:35 am

Aqaba, Jordan

Yesterday, I walked the streets of Aqaba. Once again, nearly all storefronts were closed, some with not so small chains linking the glass doors shut in case there was any uncertainty. I feel as if I’m fasting with the city in solidarity but mainly because I have no choice.

I found a nice little spot on the beach after realizing it was accessible to all and not just the locals. I don’t know why I thought that exactly. Perhaps the awkward blue gate was enough of a deterrent. It seemed to say, “You don’t belong here,” for whatever reason until I saw a man casually pass through like a subway turnstile.

I hiked up my canvas pants, which was a much better call than the formal slacks I’d been wearing most of the trip and life now that I think about it. “Nick Maccarone in blue jeans, it’s never happened,” my close friend Evan commented.

For a while there was also an amusing photo of me posted of Facebook wearing a blazer and sporting some Ray Bans on the top of a mountain several of us hiked for a friend’s bachelor weekend. No airs. Everyone just knew it was how I dressed come rain, shine, or precipitous cliff.

I felt silly at least twice yesterday. I realized the exchange rate here in Jordan was good, but not as good as I’d thought for the past 5 days. Instead of multiplying the American Dollar by the Jordanian Dinar, I should have been dividing. Luckily, I haven’t had the opportunity to spend money on anything during my stay since business is mostly closed until sundown.

I also discovered the bustling little beachfront property I’d been gazing at longingly for several days wondering how to get to, full of life, people, and most notably open storefronts was not some lax part of this port city, but Israel. “Ah,” I said. “Well, I’ve already been there,” I tried to play off to the Filipino concierge. Rookie mistake, I later thought.

The stares intensify depending on what part of the city I’m in. I’m not offended though. I wander aimlessly with my book in hand and ruminating thoughts as I besiege neighborhoods not in the Lonely Planet guide. How would I feel if some random tourist from Croatia was walking through the Oakland neighborhood of my youth? I’d probably stop and take a peek as well.

As I was reading this morning, I came across an insightful piece of advice geared primarily towards running a small business, but highly applicable to just about anything else: “All the bad days have two things in common: You know the right thing to do, but you let somebody talk you out of doing it.”

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