So this summer Tad is working with the Zikra Initiative, a Jordanian NGO that is working with the people in the South of Jordan in order to give them a source of income, a sense of pride and share their way of life with travellers from the west and Amman. I think it is a pretty awesome NGO and really well thought out in order to avoid many of the negative externalities that commonly arrive from "development" aid.
Since it is stinking hot in the Ghor during the summer, during the summer Zikra is looking to find an alternate location to bring tourists. So they are opening a site in the mountains in a village called Mukawir . Through Engaging Cultures I was able to go on one of the cultural exchanges to Zikra's site in Mukawir.
I met up with the group on Sharia Wakalat (sounds a bit too conveniently like Walk-a-lot in English if you ask me). Sharia Wakalot is a pedestrian mall in Amman. We then departed for Mukawir by two air-conditioned buses.
The ride up to Mukawir is very much a ride up. Since Mukawir is so high, the weather
is very cool. It is something like I imagine Afghanistan to be, but I don't plan to find out what Afghanistan is like anytime in the next few years. The area is very hilly and arid. There are goats and sheep on the plateaus that are found draped between the peaks. Everyday life must be quite a challenge.
With the Zikra program the women of the village teach us how to prepare food like beef mansaf, spin carted wool into yarn, and make shrak bread. Making shrak was the most fun part for me. In order to make shrak you take a patty of dough, and stretch it using movements analogous to making pizza pies. The bread is then thrown on the saj, which sits on a small fire, and due to the thinness of the bread, it cooks in just a few seconds. Here is a video. We were there until the afternoon, and then headed back to Amman after a meal with the women in the village eating the food we prepared and a trip to an impressive lookout over the Dead Sea.
In the evening I attended an art exhibition from a girl that I
met at a party in Amman. It was quite interesting to see since it was held in a small art venue. One piece in particular was challenging for me since all the text was in Arabic and I am sure I missed quite a lot of the context.
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