In English, in the newspaper ad, the brand name of the company was translated as "Dreamland". Which is precise in terms of translation, and so contradictory in terms of connotation. Consider this note as a sketch about the function of destiny, whenever it decides to become grandiose and to prove the humorous root in the universal manual of use. A single event may shock us and leave the impression of a tragedy, while sometimes the succession of unfortunate events that they unfold themselves with the density of nice 19th century prose, may give a fully comical sense.
So this أرض الأحلام (Dreamland) is or, rather, used to be the name of a well established travel agency in Rabiah, Amman, which accommodated the dreams of many Jordanian families and individuals, and of some ex-pats like myself, especially during the occasions of the somewhat longer breaks, during the lesser and the major Feast, the birthday of the Prophet, the day of Independence, the Labor's Day, the Islamic New Year, days like these... For me and my closest friend it has become a ritual in a way to travel to Damascus during these memorable days, in order to divert a bit the iron hand of identical routine days. Damascus is close to Amman (some 200 km), the old city is great, the Wall Gates are plenty, the food is heavenly, Ghrawi chocolates are just an achievement in the kingdom of cacao, the visa process for me is quite simple. Good reasons for making an easy decision or not?
On the other hand, if one decides to book his/her room upon the arrival to the city, this may cost quite expensive. The Syrian normal hotels offer small rooms, very standard-type-of-thing. Therefore, the easy solution is to book through an agency. They have good offers, plus one avoids the hustle of negotiating with taxi drivers. Plus the fun of sharing moments with Jordanian families, the details of behaviour. I have learned pretty much this way and became conscious of even more. My favorite hotel there is Teshreen, which is adjacent to the Stadium of Teshreen: it is not grand, but very warm, with well sized rooms and it forces you to walk to the various locations of interest without tiring you out. I always fight back my friend's tendency towards luxury, but this time I decided to succumb, let us make it a bit shiny with the Meridien option, which is conveniently located next to our favorite coffee shop. This temptation/weakness brought us to the Dreamland.
The second part unfolds in front of the agency, on the first day of Eid Al Adha, from 6:30 a.m. till 7:40 a.m. in front of the locked premises of the agency, expecting for the bus. Only one family (two elderly parents and their 20ish son) was there with their luggage. Gradually we face the truth. A third participant comes to check if the rumours were true: He heard that the owner of the Dreamland collected all the money and rushed to his own dream somewhere in Turkey, fleeing the country. "It was on the News"... Many people, heading to distant destinations lost considerable amounts of money, unlike us who lost no more than 120 J.D. each. We gave a seat to the family to Al Abdali to get a taxi to Damascus. They were decisive and did not want to let down their son, who would travel for the first time abroad.
The facts: The Dream-broker collected some 93,000 J.D. as they said. The guarantee of the office was approximately 75,000 J.D. Hence, for the modest amount of 18,000 he destroyed his name, he harmed his family, frustrated many people who even took loans for their trips, and spoiled the reputation of the tourist business in Jordan. The brother of my dear friend Malik lost the same way his honey moon arrangements and quite a lot of money...Things get cheap at some point, more frequently than they should.
I said, the Sibylla of Shadows: "Well, it is irritating and funny. But let us stay for the Eid in Amman." Ala'a, my friend, insisted on fulfilling the dream. So, there they are the two guys in the car, driving to the borders, crossing with difficulty the borders (bureaucracy is an international phenomenon), giving eidiyyeh (=special treat- money- on the occasion of celebrations) to various Syrian customs' employees, rushing from one stamp to the next. Keep these in mind, and I will elaborate on playful Destiny next time.