Come for the Rock, Stay for the People

IMG_0007For the next ten days, I am in Jordan, a nation of peace and refuge wedged in between a lot of Middle East belligerence and violence. At the end of my first day, I am relaxing with a fantastic Jordanian merlot, hoping to forget how stiff and sore I am from walking all day.

I am in the capital of Amman, which is built on 7 hills and seems to have limited or at least secret public transportation routes so, unlike Jerusalem or Budapest, it is not a great city for exploring without a car unless you are training for Everest.

I love Amman so far but it is not a pretty city.  Although Jordan has antiquities that are as old as civilization, Amman’s construction is mostly recent and very utilitarian.  In the city center, trees and parks are in short supply, and trash and dirt are plentiful. Anyway, I am not here to see Paris — I am here for the culture and Petra (Greek for “rock”).  And Jordan’s culture is its people, who are known for their hospitality and kindness, which are already apparent to me, along with a feeling of easiness. Another indication of Jordanian hospitality and kindness is the humanitarian relief this country has provided to more than a million refugees in recent years (more on that later, Messrs. Bush and Obama, and the title is apt).

And speaking of friendly — I am definitely attracting male attention on the street, which I am definitely not used to. This attention has not caused me to imagine I look like Jennifer Lawrence, however. As a western tourist, it wouldn’t matter what I looked like, and most of the Jordanian women on the street are covered head to toe with a jilbab. In comparison, I guess I appear quite racy in my hiking pants and open collared blouse.

I haven’t taken pictures of women in jilbabs because I understand  many Muslim women are uncomfortable with strangers taking photographs. This is one of the only stock photos I could find that didn’t look like an ad for a Jilbab company

My guest house is very friendly and comfortable with a patio that overlooks part of the city, a lot of animals and a room with good juju.

DSCN0669

My host Bouwa loves to talk. I stand at his cage and say every word he knows while he looks at me like this and I feel very foolish. When I turn to leave, he proceeds to talk up a storm, which seems a little passive aggressive to me.

DSCN0668

The patio has a view of the city’s most important archaeological site, the Citadel.

DSCN0643

My room smells like aromatherapy herbs, very soothing.

On my walking tour today, I saw plenty of interesting things walking to and through the souq.

DSCN0647

The herb dealers use these very cool woven containers.  If I don’t promise to buy some, Mags will be on the next flight to Amman.

DSCN0649

These chicks were feeling bad enough about being sold at the market

DSCN0667

Random amazing tiles at a parking lot

DSCN0648

The Roman theater is about 2,000 years old and takes up most of a hillside.

The brand new Jordan Museum is state of the art but has a very small collection.  It is still waiting for Israel to return its share of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Here are some head shots.

DSCN0663

Made in 7500 BCE, these are the oldest statues of human forms in the world.

DSCN0657

They just seem really fine with whatever

DSCN0654

This Byzantine statue portrays a woman’s head as a water vessel which seems kind of old fashioned.

After all that walking, I decided I would skip the falafel on my first day. So I went up to Amman’s trendy neighborhood on Al-Rainbow Street and had a late lunch at Wild Jordan, which has excellent food at world class prices plus a 26% service fee.  I had a grilled seafood salad with fresh strawberry juice that had been blended with lime and mint.  So good!

DSCN0665

5 comments

    1. I have heard some music when I have had coffee at the cultural center but otherwise I don’t know where to hear traditional music in Amman.In fact, I haven’t heard much music this whole trip.except a little in the Madrid subway.

  1. Ah the food so fresh and yummy. Petra and the Roman ruins ….can ‘t wait to hear what your experience is like. It was the day we were in Petea my mom passed in NY. So an odd memory of wonder and bereavement. I do remember the clarity of the sunlight and air as your patio photo shows.

  2. Interesting place! The woven containers for spices look very similar to what I saw at the farmers markets in Ethiopia last year. Yes – have you heard any music?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s