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Published: March 28th 2014
I have lived in the Middle East for almost two years now, but coming to Jordan is the first time I feel like I dove headfirst into Arabic culture. From start to finish.
First was the plane ride from Doha. I was seated near the back of the plane wear a Qatari man was traveling with his hooded falcon. A falcon!! Not in a cage! Just chillin... Apparently he was $26,000 and one of only five falcons that can catch a certain type of bird, so he was going on a hunting trip to Jordan.
Then we arrived at Queen Alia International Airport - not too shabby. But it was funny to see that the many lines for Jordanians far exceed the three small lines for all other nationalities - this is one of the first times I've seen this happen. We rented a car, a small one, and proceeded to drive to our hotel in Amman. I was the navigator while Matt drove - we didn't do half bad, but the drivers here definitely put those in Qatar to shame! I knew there were worse places to drive and now i've found one. Finally!
We finally found
our hotel after many issues with the traffic patterns, and were surprised to see a security checkpoint. Nothing major - just a guard asking us to pop the trunk before he allowed us into the hotel parking lot. Really? Then we enter the building and there is another checkpoint - again, nothing crazy, but a metal detector to walk through and a baggage scanner. I guess I feel safe, but also not safe - why is security so tight? My room is pretty nice with a little patio looking out on a large yard where kids were playing. It looks like there is a covered pool which must be available during the warmer months.
Warm? Yeah, it was pretty warm today, but pleasant (around 25 degrees). But it actually got pretty cold tonight! Brrr!
Eventually, Mohammed, a guy that used to work with many of my Fugro colleagues including Matt, and a guy who is going to start working with me in a few days, called us up to meet for dinner. He found his way to our hotel, bringing along his wife and young daughter (she was adorable!). We asked him to drive our car and they
took us to an Arabic restaurant in downtown Amman. Man, this place is booming! There were cars everywhere, fighting for position on the busy, narrow streets. It looked like a large scale souk but in large buildings; the buildings were quite old and it just felt like a real authentic atmosphere. THIS is Amman! Absolutely breathtaking! The buildings were old and of varying architecture, though Islamic for the most part, with some Roman influence thrown in - there were Roman ruins scattered about the downtown and they just built around them - so cool! The buildings are haphazard through the hills, creating a beautiful cityscape - I can't say enough how enchanting this place is. This is what it is supposed to feel like.
While we were driving, I noticed that not one single woman I saw did NOT have a hijab on. I started to feel naked. I packed a scarf but did not think about bringing it to dinner. Fortunately, in the chosen restaurant, I saw various other girls without scarves. The dinner was good - Mansaf (a Jordanian rice dish with meat and yogurt) with hummus, moutabel and tabouleh. We had baklava and kanafeh for dessert.
Next we made our way towards the amphitheater just to see it. Matt and I got lots of stares. One girl even came up to me and asked to take a picture. I thought she meant to take a picture OF us since I had my camera out, so I said "no thank you", but Ronda told me that she wanted to take a picture WITH me. Crazy!
Back at the hotel to update you folks, but I need a good night's sleep as we are heading to Wadi Rum tomorrow morning and I suspect it will be a long, jam-packed, fun day!
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