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Meet Marre, In2Jordan’s trainee travel consultant who says a series of chance encounters led her down a dream career path in Middle-Eastern tourism.
As the saying goes: It’s not what you know, but who you know. For Dutch tourism student, Marre Van Lente, the saying has never been more accurate. After all, it was a chance meeting with a horse guide in Petra which led her to In2Jordan.
Marre’s In2Jordan story began in 2012 on her first visit to Jordan. “I was traveling with my mother and sister,” says Marre. “I love Arabian horses and wanted to fulfill my dream of riding through Petra.”
When a family issue called Marre’s initial horse guide away during their ride, Bedouin vet, Emad took over.
“Emad rears Arabian horses which he uses for endurance races in the desert,” says Marre. “While interacting with his horses, Emad mentioned there was a small Dutch community of ex-pats living in Petra and put me in touch with his friend, Jolanda Koopman.
“Marre found herself developing a deep desire to live and work in the Middle East.”
“At the time, Jolanda was frequently traveling back and forth between The Netherlands and Petra. I got to meet her over dinner in Amsterdam on my return home from my holiday,” says Marre.
In the months that followed, Marre found herself developing a deep desire to live and work in the Middle East.
“Within two years of my first Jordanian adventure, I went backpacking around Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Jordan,” Marre recalls. “I got a job in a guesthouse in Amman and realized I really enjoyed answering guest enquiries about what they should see while in Jordan.”
“It was during this time that Marre had her second chance encounter.”
It was during this time that Marre had her second chance encounter. “One day, I was traveling through Amman in a taxi and got talking with Osama, the driver,” Marre explains. “I told him I was from The Netherlands and he asked me if I knew the Dutch ladies living in Petra. I told him ‘yes, Jolanda’!”
“Suddenly, he passed me his phone and I found myself talking to Carmen, In2Jordan’s co-founder. She is also Dutch and a friend of Jolanda’s, so when she invited me for coffee, I accepted” says Marre.
Before she’d had a single sip of coffee in Carmen’s living room, Marre says she didn’t have any intention to study tourism. Instead her plan was to return to The Netherlands to study Arabic. Once the cup had been drained however, Marre realized a career in the travel industry could be the key to unlocking her future in the Middle East.
“Carmen and Jolanda both explained that they enjoy working at In2Jordan because they got to unveil the wonders of Jordan to others,” says Marre. “I am the same! I love to make people enthusiast about the Middle East by telling stories from my own experiences.”
“Jordan has so much more to offer than the major sites of Petra and Wadi Rum.”
When Marre officially joined In2Jordan in May 2017, it was her sixteenth trip to the Middle East. “I’m excited to complete this internship at In2Jordan as part of my new course in tourism and Arabic,” says Marre. “Every day I get to help people travel through this magnificent country – something that I think everyone should do.”
“Jordan has so much more to offer than the major sites of Petra and Wadi Rum. I also think that Jordan is an ideal country for those who want a first taste of Middle Eastern life or for those who are unsure about the region,” says Marre.
“My home is in the Middle East. One day I will live in Egpyt and work in tourism or for an NGO there.”
For the next few months, Marre will divide her time learning from In2Jordan’s destination experts in Aqaba, Petra and Amman. At the weekend however, you’ll likely find her sitting in a small coffee house in Jabel Weibdeh.
“It’s Amman’s most multi-cultural and artistic neighborhood,” Marre explains. “Here, the Muslim and Christian communities mingle in a contemporary scene of art galleries and cafes, but with a distinct Middle-Eastern flavour.”
In November, Marre will return to Holland to complete her studies. When asked how she feels to head home, Marre gives a perplexed look. “Home? My home is in the Middle East. One day I will live in Egpyt and work in tourism or for an NGO there. For now, my home is in Jordan.”
For more information on In2Jordan’s itineraries, excursions or intern program, visit https://in2jordan.com/tours/