Welcome to Jordan!

Trip Start Dec 31, 2004
Trip End Apr 22, 2005

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Flag of Jordan  ,
Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The sun was slipping away as my cab pulled up in front of the crooked alleyway. I ascended the terrazzo tiled staircase to the hotel lobby, inspected the room and nodding approval handed over my passport. I dug out my scarf, flipped it around my neck and raced down the stairs into a Jordanian twilight.

I hunched forward, folded my arms against the cold and slowly walked up the burgeoning sidewalk. I thought of Paris in the autumn, that damp chill, old village charm in a bustling city, the romantic bend down a quiet lane lit by a coffee shop sign. Amman is a cosmopolitan city, posh and sophisticated yet tethered tightly to their ancient traditions and bound by strict social mores.
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan wears a diadem of dichotomies.

The streets were alive with people and polite traffic. A man was carving a rotating spit of meat under a heat lamp while outside a tall man with red and white checkered kafieh twirled his prayer beads. Veiled women walked down the street arm in arm their made-up eyes squinting a smile and at the hems of the chador coats clicked the pencil heels of their stilettos. An imam's call to prayer undulated through the speakers mounted to the attenuated minaret of the King Hussein mosque.

I found a narrow restaurant and settled in to watch the city. I was right away greeted as I had already been here several times within a couple hours with a sincere "Welcome to Jordan". I had a plate of shredded chicken in onions and peppers with humus, olive oil and cilantro and a skinny glass of hot tea with fresh mint leaves. I was reading my guidebook when I looked up to see a smiling painted face peering under a floral headscarf. She was wearing jeans under a loose black coat and after she grabbed her two bags of food she turned to me and welcomed me before leaving. Two strong-jawed sheiks with thick jet brows in brilliant white gowns stood talking then a Mercedes door muffled open and they stepped inside. Across the street a pharmacist leaned against his counter smoking a cigarette and talking to his coworker in her white head-wrap and doctor's coat. A car radio boomed a spiraling nasal wale of a suffocating reed fighting against a counter-swirl of tiny cymbals. I ordered a second glass of tea, smiled at the arabesque of sights and sounds spinning around me and let the heat of the glass warm my hands and breathed in the minty steam.

It's only my first night in the Middle East and already I've fallen under its mystic allures. Quite a lot of people have fallen prey to Jordan's charms: T.E. Lawrence strolled and fought in the desert's sand; Moses died here and even a certain man by the name of Jesus was baptized but a few miles outside of town.

Not bad company. Welcome to Jordan, indeed.

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voyageurfred on

Painting with words
Hi Christina,

As one who will soon depart for Jordan, I came across your enchanting blog, and your well written post. You paint a lovely picture of what you have observed! Many thanks
Cheers... Frederic

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