Welcome to Jordan

Posted: September 8th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: travel | Tags: | No Comments »

I fully intended to write a post about Turkey, several in fact, but sometimes you’re just not in the mood while traveling around and now I find myself in Jordan and for the life of me every time I try to write something about Turkey I start sounding to myself like some low-budget community newspaper travel columnist.

Then visit Ephesus and see history written large in stone from the Hellenistic period, through to the Romans and finally into the Byzantine empire.

Pathetic – I did take lots of photos of Turkey so I’ll put them all into another post and that’ll have to do. I’ll try to post descriptions for the photos, that alone is probably about as much work as I can stand to do on this anytime soon.

Anywho, since I can’t seem to put my thoughts together about Turkey I took some time last night to write some stream of consciousness about Jordan, I’ll edit it where it gets truly incoherent, but here goes:

Jordan is just too damned distracting, I’m too busy watching the people to write about Turkey. Everyone is arguing, hugging, men holding hands while talking to each other, everyone greeting each other with enthusiasm and everyone is talking fast in Arabic. I’m sitting on a 2nd floor balcony across the street from my hotel at the Jaffra cafe, waiting for my “hubbly-bubbly” or sheesha or nargile or waterpipe or whatever to arrive and there’s some kind of sitar music playing very loudly to drown out the bad dance music from the electronic store across the street. A man is buzzing around the balcony, squeezing through the limited space between tables and pipes, holding a basket full of glowing hot coals (you can feel the heat as he squeezes by) refreshing the coals for everyone.

The sound-scape is intense, something out of a slow walking chase scene from some Bourne clone action movie.

24 hours ago I arrived in Jordan, into an airport that seems straight out of 1978 all concrete stained with smoke, buying my visa in one queue then moving on to the next to get a stamp letting me into the country. Amusingly instead of saying something like “30 day tourist visa” it simply says “report to police after 30 days”, I’m sorta glad I’ll be out of the country before I need to report to the police. After Turkey with it’s “small” cities of 4 million people Amman is refreshingly only 2.2 million people, and it shows. The driver didn’t speed, stopped at lights, and generally obeyed an understandable set of traffic rules (as did everyone else). On the drive from the airport to my hotel in downtown Amman, sometime around 11pm on a thursday night, there were dozens and dozens of people pulled over on the side of the highway, on hills and medians and little parks, all sitting around smoking sheesha and drinking tea, just your standard evening activity in Jordan.  


They smoke alot in this country, and my hubbly bubbly has arrived, lemon mint flavoured tobacco filtered in a tall pipe through water. Apparently the equivalent of smoking a whole pack of cigarettes but without feeling like you’ve smoked them due to the filtering of the water. I can’t imagine the lung-cancer rate in Jordan, I’m guessing 2 out of 3 people given the fact that everyone here is smoking. Old ladies in hijabs, young glamour girls and their beefcake boyfriends, tables full of 20-something women in colourful headscarves of purple, blue, pink and white and grumpy old men with serious mustaches, everyone is smoking either sheesha or cigarettes, or both.

Jordan, or at least Amman, isn’t drowning in tourists, there’s some for certain but not in sufficient quantity to make a business that caters exclusively to tourists a viable option, which makes everything refreshingly Jordanian. Sure there are some tourist focused businesses, but they really seem to be in the minority and are pretty much limited to souvenir shops, restaurants and bars all seem to appeal to locals as much as tourists, or if anything to locals and then to tourists on the side. I suspect this will change when I get out of Amman and visit the big tourist sights like Petra and Wadi-rum, but for now I’m content sitting here, smoking my lemony-minty tobacco, and watching the people enjoy themselves.

Leave a Reply