Eating in Amman has been a delight. But now I’m missing a pork chop. Before it was hamburger, now pork. I need to learn to be content.
We had a fascinating few days last week. Our innkeeper, Rajai, gave us an opportunity we couldn’t resist. He took us to Mt Nebo environs and a house that he built using only recycled materials. Actually, he didn’t do the manual labor but an Egyptian gentleman did it all. Pictures will be shared but note that this gentleman placed and mortared each stone. There are a lot of Egyptians here who are working to provide for their families at home in Egypt. So this gentleman lives and works here but the family stays in Egypt. When asked, he told us he visits about once per year for about a month. And has for the past 14 years! WOW—that’s a lot of employment deployments.
So we went to visit Rajai’s country house—very basic and rural and isolated. There is another house next door that appeared to be a bit more modern but not much. The scenery was fabulous and as the sun was setting and city lights started appearing we could see Jerusalem and Jericho from the terrace. Amazing to note how close Amman is to Jerusalem. Rajai said that he was sitting on his balcony during the Iraq war in 1991 watching the missiles flying overhead. War is a disruptive reality here. Very real.
In addition to the city lights/Mt Nebo/country house sighting we were invited to visit Rajai’s Bedouin neighbors down the road. He’s cultivated this friendship for years. That’s what Rajai does…he cultivates. I will say he’s a Christian in a Muslim dominated society. He acknowledges many Muslim friends but is un-fond of treatment of women under Quranic mentality and wishes Jordan was more secular. I would say that growing up in Salt Lake City gave me the same view. Myopic view is never healthy.
Traveling with Rajai is never a straight line; we went and visited the Bedouins at night, in their tents. Rajai, the Egyptian builder and John went together to the men’s side of the tent and 2 other female travelers and myself to the female side of the tent. We had brought along a sampling of sweets and were met with snacks from their side: flat bread, butter and a very salty tasting plain yogurt to drink. The butter and yogurt was from goat’s milk. The 8-10 Bedouin women were certainly welcoming, one of the young girls spoke some “courtesy” English. We ate, smiled, drank the yogurt, looked around at their home. Unfortunately, they would not allow pictures. So here’s what we saw: our side had tent canvas “walls” which could be drawn in the cold. There were carpets on the ground and the seating consisted of upholstered cushions on the carpeted area. There was a refrigerator, there were propane hot plates for cooking and there was a cabinet to house cooking stuff. Within the female side I did not see divided areas for individual space. I did not see a toilet or a shower facility. It was basic.
All the women and the teenage girls wore dark misfah (head dressings) and black embroidered full length, full sleeved dresses. We waited a while for the mistress of the house to arrive—Rajai told us that she was a mother of 10. We couldn’t figure out nor could we ask who was in this cast of players in the tent. Were they older daughters, additional wives, siblings, neighbors. We were confused. And remain so.
We stayed for about an hour then stood up to leave—it was probably rude but we still had a drive back to town and an early departure for Petra the next day. WE didn’t wait for male permission to depart—we girls just did it. Another adventure in being the foreigner.