>As I mentioned yesterday, I want to talk a little bit about what I see when I look at Amman. I’ll end with the things that I, personally, think are the 10 most awesome things. But, first, I want to let you see Amman through my eyes.
On my first trip to Amman, I was surprised at how big and bustling it was. All of the houses perched on the sides of mountains were interesting and very foreign. Coming from Alabama, I’m used to wide open spaces. Land simply isn’t a problem for us (nor is water). The mishmash of old houses and new houses, falling down structures and Abdoun mansions was such a unique contrast. The other thing that I pointedly remember is the amazing array of antennas. This was long before the satellite boom in Jordan. Back then, every building had 5 or 6 antennas crowding the roof. Many of them were shaped like the Eiffel Tower. It was simply a jumbled confusion for the eye. Back in those olden days, Amman was a city with fewer people and FAR fewer cars. Parking wasn’t the issue it is today. When I looked at the city, I saw a place that was a mix of old and new, ancient civilization covered by recent additions. I saw a mess, but what a fabulous mess it was!
Today, Amman is very different. Don’t take that as a bad thing – I don’t. I still find Amman to be the most charming city I’ve ever visited. Even with all of its traffic and parking issues. Even knowing it from the inside, the part where getting a driver’s license is a week-long affair. Even with its people growing more and less rude at the same time. Amman is an awesome city. It truly is a gateway to the Middle East. Here you see very few men in dresses (forgive the abrupt Americanism, but that’s what I saw when I visited Kuwait). Those you do see have that unique Jordanian way of wearing a sport coat over them… You see many women who wear hijab, but very few fully covered. In a way, it’s the perfect place to shock Americans out of their American mindsets, because it is VERY foreign, but not so foreign that it is impossible to relate, understand, comprehend.
So today, nearly 13 years after that first trip to Jordan, I’m celebrating my new home. I’ve come a long way in many ways and yet I remain that same young girl who is in love with this beautiful, very foreign place. So, here I offer:
Momma Bean’s 10 Most Awesome Things About Jordan…
- Endless stairways going up the side of mountains, twisting and turning, promising new adventures and foreign vistas just out of site. Old stairways, new stairways, crumbling and pristine. All pointing to the fact that Jordan is always trying to move up and on and out.
- Three to four story houses, buildings built on the sides of mountains, in the valleys, on the tops of the mountains. Many cling precariously, staying rooted by the determination of their inhabitants and holding on by sheer grit.
- Doorways that are glimpses into the inner world of the Jordanian lifestyle. Doorways where old men sit and watch the world go by, doorways where mothers take children out to play and shop, doorways that lead to another world, one that isn’t readily visible. The doorways of Amman hold so much promise, if only you could get inside…
- The people of Jordan who open their hearts and homes by nature, not out of obligation. How many other places can you go where people will take you in, cook for you, serve you, and just be with you? No obligations, no expectations, just the ability to BE with one another.
- Adventures in driving, daily vignettes of unexpectedness. Today maybe you’ll be forced to play Egyptian-guard slalom, tomorrow it’s interpretive dance with the BMW in front you, every day, it’s a guaranteed adventure.
- Flowers on the street corner for 1 JD. Roses that can be had for so little but that last for so long. Every color of the rainbow is available, every vendor wants to please. Cries go out to fellow vendors across the corner to meet your desire for yellow, pink, red, orange. Whatever you want, they will try to find it.
- Fabulous historical sites including Petra, Jerash, and the Dead Sea. Old castles and palaces, the Qala’a. There is so much history that it’s hard to choose where to start. And, more is found every day, so each time you visit Petra, it’s a revelation. forget being ONE of the new 7 Wonders of the World, Jordan has 10, 15, 20 wonders, each interesting, each unique, and none as unique as it’s living stones…
- Arableesee, this unique mix of Arabic and English rather welcomes those of us who’ve studied enough to get the gist, but not be conversant enough to be part of the conversation. It opens up the challenge of the Arabic language and allows for confusing, jumbled conversations using the word that best fits the meaning, regardless of language.
- The breezes that come along in the summer. Dead heat pushes, pulses, incinerates – until it is calmed by gentle breezes stirring the air, bringing relief. God sends us the heat in order to remind us of the blessing of the breeze. The breezes.
- The food. As with everything the food is a such a hodge–podge, a mix, a conglomeration from here and there. Foods eaten with hands –msekhen, mensef, hummus, felafel. Food eaten with forks – Maqluubi, jaaj mahshi, knafe. Sipped, stirred, drunk. Whatever you want you find (and they have Galler!). The food is truly worth writing home about.
I hope you enjoy reading my list as much as I enjoyed making it. It’s in no order, not of importance or favoriteness. It’s just in the order in which it came to me. I love this home of mine. Come, visit, ahlan wa sahlan. See Jordan through my eyes, and let me see it through yours.