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Thou Shalt Not Snore - Jordan - by Kirsten Koza

Thou Shalt Not Snore

by Kirsten Koza 

“Snoring!” The English woman’s voice eviscerated the night.

Was it me? Was I snoring? Was I the culprit? Had I even fallen asleep yet? My heart pounded in tachycardia-terror from being jolted out of drifting.

I’d paid for a single supplement to avoid this very sort of thing. But on this night of the tour, Christmas night, I was sleeping on the floor in a Jordanian Bedouin family’s house with five other women.

I was exhausted after our first day of cycling seventy-five kilometres in pelting rain, sleet and stinging hail. I rolled over on my cushioned mat and inhaled dust from the drapes which met the ground next to me. I couldn’t breathe out of my nose. I probably had been snoring. I reached in the dark for my bike pack which had tissue and a Vicks Vapour Inhaler, and my hand brushed the silky bag which contained my grandmother’s ashes. Now she was a woman who could snore. She was the champion. A friend of mine confessed to wanting to smother my grandma for snoring one Christmas many years ago.

I’d intended on scattering some of Grandma’s ashes on Mount Nebo today but it felt wrong. I thought she would have found it hilarious if people asked where she was buried and I replied, “She’s buried with Moses.” But it was cold, windy and raining (I’d envisioned myself coated in Grandma) and it felt so lonely on Mount Nebo. I couldn’t do it.

I found a Kleenex in the bag beside Grandma and tried to very quietly blow my nose, scared of the English woman whose feet were an inch from the crown of my head. Then the sixty-something-year-old American lady started to softly snore. The feet by my head kicked in outrage. I tried to suck my noggin under my blanket like a turtle. The American lady snored delicately. The English woman grabbed her water bottle, gulped angrily, then cracked her bottle like a clap of thunder.

The snoring wasn’t bad, but the tension in the room was statically charged. I lay there, not daring to re-arrange my sleeping bag liner which was strangling me, in case I made a sound. When I’d communicated my concern to KE, an adventure tour operator in the UK, about the nights of shared accommodation and had wondered about bringing my own tent, I was told not to do this, and was given a spiel about “group bonding”. I was sure the two women who had travelled with their husbands would rather be bonding with them.

The English woman snorted above me. It figured: she was a one woman Three Stooges. Normally I find it hard to sleep when someone is snoring, but her cacophonous slumber was utterly delightful compared to the night-tantrums she’d been having. I relaxed.

“SNORING!” My left shoulder was being gripped and shaken.

“You know, you’ve been snoring, too,” I retorted, traumatized and truthfully. “We’ve all been snoring. Well, Helen hasn’t.” The marketing exec at a biotech firm was the only one who hadn’t snored, yet. She probably had pills for it. She had Sporty Legs supplements with her, she likely had something for snorty nose, too.

“That was Helen, snoring. Not me!” The English woman lashed. If a voice could stab, impale, slice limbs clean through, this was it.

Helen was on the other side of the room, not inches from me. I decided to defend Helen, even if it meant my blood would be spurting from my throat. “It wasn’t Helen. It was you. I even considered videoing you so I could show you that you, too, snore. But I was too tired to bother.”

Silence. 

I decided since we were awake to take this opportunity to go to the loo, so as not to wake the English woman again. I reached into my pack and found my feminine hygiene wipes beside my grandma. I told Grandmother with telepathy that I’d found someone who snored even louder than she did.

I slipped into the communal flip flops outside the bathroom. The blue tile floor was slick around the squat toilet. One bathroom with one squat toilet and one open shower stall for twelve cyclists who’d biked seventy-five kilometres. My pee ricocheted off the shallow squat bowl and showered my feet and pyjama bottoms – well, I’d now had my warm shower. It wasn’t the Bedouin family’s fault. They were lovely and trying so hard and had  served us a feast of chicken with pistachio and saffron rice. I decided that from now on I’d be very suspicious when a tour operator used the code words “group bonding”.

I opened the bathroom door. The English woman towered over me. I practically peed again. She leant down and whispered sweetly, “If I snore, just gently touch me, and ask me to roll over.”

“There isn’t any toilet paper.” I silently handed her a feminine hygiene wet-wipe, knowing I’d never be stupid enough to wake her.


Group Travel Sleep Tips:

If you’re a light sleeper and know you have to be part of a communal sleep situation, bring ear plugs. There are wax earplugs that custom fit to your ear shape and size, and there’s even a White Noise sleep app now for i-devices.

Sleep talkers, snorers, walkers, who are travelling alone, should pay the extra money for single occupancy, like I did.

Local Recommendations: Jordan was the 20th country I've mountain biked across and the bike guides I had on this trip were the most skilled and qualified I've experienced anywhere in the world: Raslan Abbadi was my guide for five days before I started the group tour. He's Jordan's national cycling champion and record holder and was my first local guide recommendation for 2012 - it’s really exciting to see that he already has another 10/10 review from another traveller.

 Anas Beltawi, another Jordanian national cycling team member, and triathlon team member, was the local cycling guide for my group of 12 cycling tourists. 

Atef Azaideh was the tour leader and is the Operations Coordinator for the local Jordanian tour operator Terhaal Adventures. Atef is a former soldier, UN peace keeper and International Police war crimes investigator - a traveller is very well looked after in his hands.

You can see more of my recommendations of locals from around the world by clicking here.

Bio: Kirsten Koza is an author, adventure travel writer, humorous speaker, plus the What on Earth? magazine chief, and Competition Executive for Leap Local. She’s been actively involved with Leap Local since 2007 after being hunted down by Leap’s founders and finally trapped in Ollantaytambo, Peru, where she agreed to include a mention of Leap Local in an article she was writing for Dreamscapes magazine. She has a story coming out in 2012, in one of Travelers' Tales best-selling anthologies. Photos from her recent Jordan trip and others can be seen on Kirsten’s website: www.kirstenkoza.com