We have been in Amman for exactly 1 week and what an education in Middle East history and culture. And every day we meet another with a story to tell. So here’s my story. I feel safe here in Amman. India had its own cautions—mainly health precautions that we had to adhere to. And the idea of coming to Jordan was met with a lot of security concerns by friends and family. We tend to follow the guidance of the US Department of State; if their personnel are being evacuated I shouldn’t go there. Jordan wasn’t on that list so here we sit. I repeat I feel safe.
With that in mind I also say that we stay alert. We were at the top of one of Amman’s historical points of interest, the Citadel, a fortress sitting atop a high point in Amman and with recovered artifacts dating back to the Bronze Age. I had been fortified with an ice cream as we climbed up the hill in the 90+degree DRY heat (you still end up sweating). As we wandered and took pictures of the valley below, the call to prayer was being broadcasted from one of the minarets in the neighborhood. Somehow, that sound was NOT as ominous, scary, fear-inducing as what one hears as background on US news programming. Maybe, it’s the second-handedness of it while sitting on US soil. We think of it as a call to arms while here the chanting reminded me of the local Catholic church bell tolling I heard from my bedroom just that morning. While out yesterday, we went into one of the souvenir shops. I had picked up some postcards that I wanted and was looking for the shopkeeper to pay. I found him kneeled on the floor between shelving, practicing his tradition during the chant. I waited, he acknowledged my patience and wouldn’t let me pay. I think both of us walked away from the encounter blessed by grace. I was blessed by his observance and he was blessed by my patience. We’re even.
John’s interest in Jordan is guided by history and anything that speaks about the Romans. We’ve done the Jordan Museum, which transported us back 3500 years. Fascinating. But I love the bookstores and shops; yesterday I was walking down the street and saw old postage stamps in a store window. I had gone to the Post Office but all they had were postage metered stickers. I love stamps because I consider them miniature pieces of art and really love it when I can get a stamp with the picture of a building, ruin, site that I’ve visited. So, I immediately was drawn to the stamps in the window. The 85 year old gentleman who helped us had been to the US in 1964, perfectly fluent, charming and we so enjoyed visiting with him. He had a stamp with the view of Petra, our travel destination next week. In addition, we were stopped on the street by a gentleman who teaches post-grad educators at the University of Jordan in the area of curriculum development for gifted and talented. Both men were so welcoming, thanking us for coming to Jordan. That’s the message that I keep hearing: WELCOME! I feel safe here.
Jordan doesn’t have a friendly public transportation system—no subways, metro so we rely on taxis. Mind you the taxis are very, very inexpensive (we’ve traveled 20 minutes by cab and never paid more than 2 dinars—1 dinar is about $1.40). Bus system is around but not reliable but one of the most interesting public transport systems is the “share taxis.” They go only from designated routes point to point, cost 45 cents/occupant. So if we want to go downtown, we walk to the nearby “shared” point and climb in. We can either wait for 2 others to fill the car or pay the extra 90 cents for the absent riders. Unfortunately the shared taxi routes seem to be classified information; we know one route but not others. There are trans-city buses that hopefully we will use when we visit Jerash up north next week.
We’re off to Jerusalem tomorrow across the Allenby Bridge. We’ll take a taxi to that departure point and then bus across to the Israeli arrival point. The distance between the 2 points is 5 km. We’re staying in an old convent while in Jerusalem. That should be interesting. Returning to my roots once again.