Is There A Problem, Officer?

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Is There A Problem, Officer?

Ever entered a country only to experience a rude shock? Or did you ever get stopped by the Police in a place where you could not speak the language? Here’s one such tale from our travel diary of our Jordan arrival experience!

Our Travel Diary is a series of travel tales,ย behind-the-scenes annecdotes and our crazy experiences from across the world! Read about what happens in our daily lives as The Backpacksters. Read below to see one such story from our memories.


In the Middle-east, there is no country as fascinating as Jordan. It’s vast desert expanses, rugged landscapes and towering monuments are just icing on the proverbial cake. We explored Jordan by doing a road trip over eight days. But, who knew that the start would be shocking! This is our Jordan arrival story.

The well planned road trip

Shish and I had done a lot of research to find the best car rental agency. We found one which would deliver the car to us on our Jordan arrival, at the Amman International Airport.

It was nearly 6 pm when we walked out of the Arrival hall and began looking for our agent. A couple of calls and 20 minutes later, a black sedan pulled up. In the freezing winter weather, it was an absolute blessing to know that we’d have a heated car to drive around in – but, we had reserved a hatchback and not a sedan.


The unsolicited pick-up

The man driving the sedan profusely apologised for the delay and told us that he would take us to our hatchback which was parked just outside the airport at a yard. We sat inside and we began chatting about the flight, the weather in Jordan and how it was already pitch dark at 6:30 pm. As we descended teh ramp towards the main expressway, a Royal Jordanian Policeman signalled the car to a halt.


“Is there a problem, officer?”

The cop was furiously shouting at the driver (our agent) in Arabic. In the begining, I thought there was probably a traffic violation or something small they were arguing about, but it now seemed more serious. The cop had us get down from the car and told us to take a taxi to our destination. He even pulled over another taxi and forced us to go with him.

Where could we go? We were supposed to go our rental car and then drive to a different city where we were to spend the night. But this cop seemed to understand nothing. Our agent continued to argue with him and kept flashing our rental voucher to him telling it is not possible for us to go with anyone else!


The detainment

Our agent explained to us in his broken english that the cop beleives that he was an illegal taxi driver and therefore we tourists should not be driving with him. The cop was also in no mood to understand that we were renting a car from our agent and had decided to take us all to the Airport Police Station.

Who would have thought their first visit in a new country would be to the Police Station?

Guns, medals and burning cigarettes

We drove back to the Airport and were escoreted to a warm room in which there were atleast ten policemen sitting, chit chatting and smoking. Shishira was obviously as the only woman in the room and I could feel her hand tugging mine, in fear.

The arguments continued in very animated Arabic for what seemed like eternity. The clock in the room was ticking. Not being able to understand the conversation nor being able to leave had put us off completely. The cops occasionally looked at me and continued to argue with the agent. The agent made me show teh rental agreement again which was on email and repeatedly assured them of something. The cheif looked unconvinced.

The Chief finally turned towards me.


“Welcome to Jordan”

“Have a wonderful trip! You are safe to go with your agent”, said the Chief. Now, I was furious. They had wasted two hours of our precious time in Jordan, fighting about God knows what. Then, I asked them for an explanation and also told tehm that I don’t like the smell of burning cigarettes. Shish pulled my hand reminding me that I shouldn’t be saying such things, but it was too late.

Surprisingly, all the men put out their cigarettes right away. The Chief then explained that no private taxis were allowed inside the Airport. Apparantly seeing us, tourists, in a private car had alarmed them that something was wrong. So they wanted to check the credentials of the driver and his ittention of driving us outside the Airport. The cops wanted to ensure that Shish and I would have a safe experience in their country – a land stuck in termoil between rival Middle-East nations (Syria, Iraq, Saudi and ofcourse Israeil). For them tourism was the most important source of revenue and they do anything to keep the visitors safe.

That day we learnt of the sincerity of teh Royal Jordanian Police towards encouraging and protecting tourism in their country.


Have you ever gone through something similar? What was that like? Tell us about it.


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This article features in the Asia, Jordan, Middle East categories

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