I have never visited any of the countries in the Middle East. I love learning about other cultures, and this trip did not disappoint. In fact the learning hit as soon as we stepped out of the airport. Groups of men in their flowing white robes stood there greeting each other with multiple kisses. “This is going to be rich” I thought to myself. And it was.
*Because of different courtesies/guidelines my pics here will not include my friends- but hopefully you can still get a feel for the different experiences regardless. 🙂
We turned off the main road, drove thru miles of junk yard. Turned right beside the herd of camels, and wound our way up the hill to the new mosque and the long line of apartment buildings. Partway along the buildings, we stopped and started the hike up the multiple stairs until we came the right door. (Rach led with confidence- how she picked the right building out of a long kind of identical buildings is beyond me- but I didn’t question, only followed.)
The family’s handicapped son opened the door for us and we were ushered in to sit on mats in the living room. The mom kept up a constant chatter while the daughters came in and out answering WhatsApp video calls, and offering us drink. I focused on not having a heat stroke, keeping my feet tucked properly to the side, and not falling asleep; while Rach kindly interpreted this lady’s story of fleeing her hometown in the middle of the night, carrying her daughters; of her lament over their house being bombed and burnt after their departure; and the change from the lush green of her homeland to the dry brown of Jordan. She showed us pics of her grandchildren and talked excitedly about her desire to see them. Rach disappeared into the kitchen to help with meal prep and she kept up a string of Arabic that had my travel companions and I totally lost.
We sat on the floor to eat and although my feet wanted nothing more than to be pointed straight out in front of me- in a culturally offensive way- my heart was happy. “This is rich” I thought to myself
We arrived in Jordan over the ending of Ramadan (30 days of no food/water during sunlight hours) This brought a unique set of challenges since it’s actually illegal to eat or drink in public. But it also provided lots of educational opportunities for this brief culture study. Every morning at 2:30 the drummer would come by waking the neighborhood, encouraging everyone to eat before the sunrise. we stood out on the porch the one morning as he hurried up the street, and he stopped right beside us to sing. The poor guy’s voice sounded shot.
The ending of Ramadan called for a celebration (called Eid) The Park at the end of our street was buzzing with activity as people hurried to pray in the early morning. The chant went on and on for 2 hours creating so much noise and a basic “no sleep zone” for some of us.
The man paused in his careful layering of tiny stone pieces to show us his work. He is a professional with the Mosaic artwork- a tedious masterpiece that is beautiful when finished. I notice the yellow letter on his shirt (same letter as the 2 wooden pieces on the bottom right of this pic) It’s the sign that was painted on the houses of the Christians in his hometown. When the radicals returned, this sign meant his family was either heavily taxed, or the men killed and the ladies abused. Seeing these people working to pull together the pieces of their broken lives was really heart wrenching.
Our hostess was beautiful and gracious and she spoke English. (Also she had an available brother or cousin to offer for each of our group- but we’ll leave that there.) She was breaking fast to feed us a meal, and was so excited to have foreigners visiting her home. Her family kept calling and asking us to stay for Iftar (the meal after sundown) and she was sure we needed to spend the night… Her husband took us to the Wadi after his evening prayer and we waded in the water and enjoyed drinking in the green surrounding the small creek. She promised to take us to her family farm the next visit. I’m planning to remember that 🙂
The sunset threw some pink hues into the sky and the prayer call echoed all over Amman. I sat up on the roof in the refreshing evening breezes watching the lights turn on all over the city, enjoying the chatter of energetic boys, and the companionship of good friends, while savoring the best grilled hotdogs and French fries I’d had in awhile. “Yes, this is rich” I told myself
A few more random snapshots of life in Jordan:
The Jordan people are Bedouin which means that originally they were nomads living in tents, tending their flocks and herds. There is still a lot of that going on today. And KH felt compelled to comment on every.single.one she saw. Bless the patient ladies who traveled with her.
As we traveled along, and I caught snatches of shepherds sitting in the sun watching their animals. I was amazed at what a boring job that would be. It’s no wonder that David wrote music and became skilled with his sling shot.
It’s wheat harvest in Jordan and I was hoping for a chance to see it firsthand. We traveled to the northern part of the country and missed a road and there it was- in all of its New Holland glory. Rach asked the old farmers sitting under the shade tree if it was ok for me to enter the field and take a pic. They welcomed me. Apparently the wheat is bagged at the clean grain elevator instead of being loaded into the grain bin. Then several workers hoists the big sacks onto the back of a truck and they head for the elevator.
It was also interesting to see the long line of cabover Mercedes loading grain onto a ship at Aqaba. Worlds away from my life in VA, yet so similar to my family’s line of work 🙂
Thank you, people of Jordan for opening your homes to us and for helping me gain a better understanding of your way of life. I pray that the Light within you shines brighter and brighter.
And I hope I get to visit again soon.
Random foods at the open air market.
This man wrote my name on a piece of rice. “You have a very long name” he said. I thought he could just be glad that it was Kendra who hired him instead of Jennifer or Rebecca, but I held my peace 😂