Living the high life

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This is the story of how this cheapskate traveller lived it up in a five-star hotel in Aqaba, Jordan for a few days. It’s a story of clean white sheets, a spacious room and balcony with a sea view, a bed big enough for a family of four, morning showers and late night baths, leisurely breakfasts of jasmine tea and fresh green salads, boat trips out into the refreshing turquoise sea, Champagne and sunsets, each perfect day ending with the soothing sounds of a jazzy band.

After all this decadence though, this is a story of friends, old and new, of beautiful connections and comfortable conversations and many wonderful hugs. Let me tell you about all the spoiling…

An old friend of mine, Devin, a juggler, performer, musician and traveller, and his beautiful lady Lujeanne, are Ruby Bamboo, a soulful music duo currently playing at the five-star Kempinski hotel in Aqaba. Over the last year or so they’ve played in a smancey hotel in Bahrian, been invited back to the Kempinski a few times, travelled in France are are soon to embark on a two-month working cruise through the Mediterranean. After seeing them perform each night I now understand why Devin said he loves his job.

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Devin and Lujeanne performing as jazz band Ruby Bamboo.

Seeing as I planned to visit Jordan there was no way I could miss out on a visit with Devin and Lujeanne. And what a visit it turned out to be! They pulled strings to make me a Kempinski guest and give me a most relaxing and luxurious holiday. My jaw fell open each time I found out about yet another of their treats. Devin said it was his way of paying it forward for all the generosity and kindness he encountered during his six-month (very budget) backpacking trip in the US. And one day I will be able to do the same for other travellers (although perhaps not the five-star hotel stay).

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Look at the size of that bed! And that view! And what a delicious breakfast!

But really it was so very good to be with friends, to chat (in Afrikaans nogal, which was a treat, dankie Lujeanne), to remember South Africa and catch up on all our adventures along the way, to exchange philosophies and knowledge, to eat tabbouleh and hummus and learn about the wonders of coconut oil and to hug. Ah, there is little that beats a strong squeeze full of love.

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Devin and Lujeanne’s amazing treats included a visit to Wadi Rum, the red sand desert known for Bedouin living and Lawrence of Arabia. We joined some friends from the hotel for an afternoon drive through the desert, dinner around the fire at a Bedouin camp and star gazing in the silence.

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The red sands of Wadi Rum.

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Tea and dinner at a Bedouin camp.

Enough spoiling? Ha, not yet! A friend of Devin and Lujeanne’s loves making people happy and sharing his fun toys. We enjoyed a cruise along the coast in his big boat (I got to drive), with snorkeling and lunch and beer and dancing in the sunshine.

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I’m on a boat (and yes, I’m bragging about it).

But the boat isn’t his only toy. Being the top boss of an aviation academy he can play with all the aircraft, and invited me to join him on a flight over Aqaba in a teeny two-seater (which I got to steer). Talk about being spoilt rotten!

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Flight over Aqaba.

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