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