IT’S 5am at Queen Alia Airport in Amman, Jordan, shortly after the Muslim call to prayer. And all I’m feeling is the call to Muslim man. I’ve travelled some 25-plus hours from Brisbane, via Bangkok to the Middle East and have landed with hair that resembles a sucked mango and a mouth which feels like a colony of bats are seeking asylum inside my throat. But I can’t resist. The Arabs, both male and female, are so handsome, it’s like I’ve arrived in a parallel universe. I attempt to say hello “Salam wa aleikum” but all that comes out of my mouth is a strangled sound, and a little bit of spit. Fuelled by sleepless delirium and excitement at being back in the Middle East after nearly two decades, I ask our guide to translate to the Immigration Officer the question of whether he would like a wife. “Wait one year” comes the reply. I’m so jetlagged, I’m unsure whether I should simply stand to the side of his counter for the next 365 days or actually come back after I’ve done a few more things with my life. My travelling party rolls its collective eyes: it’s classic Goddess.
Let me be clear: a Goddess, I am not. I’m not even Bridget Jones, more like her daggy underpants themselves. I inherited this nickname last year when I was working in Singapore, sweating out my body weight each day along the Equator, while living in Little India. The Indians there seemed to adopt a curious attraction to me, so the name arrived and stuck, as nicknames tend to do. The Global bit comes from the fact I’m a travel writer, who seems to uncanningly find herself hunting for a husband while simultaneously foraging for a story. Let’s just say, I always come home with a story.
I’ve told my friends I’m “on assignment” in the Middle East. Heck, I’ve even packed my khaki pants, just in case some mystery editor calls me up to jump over the border and cover the strife in Syria. The fact the only shoes I’ve packed are thongs shows how serious I am taking the idea of being a war correspondent. And thus instead, my travelling party and I head to the Dead Sea.
Across the salty water sits Israel. Jericho to be precise. If I squint into the sunshine, my 41 year old self dissolves and I can picture my 25 year old backpacker self, with the boyfriend who would become my husband and then my heartbreak. The image is like a mirage. But sad, I am not. Resilient, foolhardy, passionate…yes. And ready to take on the world again.
I wake up each day to find three waiters battling over who will bring me my morning coffee. I end up drinking three different cups of coffee to appease all three. I suspect I shall miss this when I wake up next week in Brisbane. The next day, my guide informs me: “Tomorrow night you will see a man dance in the desert.” “A man!” I practically shout, “and what does this man do?” I ask, barely able to contain myself, expecting something erotic and exotic in equal measure. “Not a man,” comes the reply “Amman dance.” The dance is pretty good for something non-erotic. The Arabs possess charm in spades. It continues when I go to buy batteries for my camera. “Your lips are like honey,” the dapper shopkeeper says, “I can see Sydney in your eyes.” I don’t have the heart to tell him Sydney is 1000km from Brisbane, so I would have to be Wonder Woman and not just an ordinary Global Goddess, to be able to possess this special trait.
We continue on to Petra, the desert of Wadi Rum, the Red Sea and then home. I’m right, there are no handsome Arabs making my morning cup of Joe when I wake up in Brisbane. But a bloke who calls himself Ford Falcon has contacted me and wants a date…