Wayn Mujamma?

Trip Start Apr 03, 2010
Trip End Apr 17, 2010

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Flag of Jordan  ,
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Deciding to strike out on my own, I peace corps-ed it up to the Roman ruins in Jerash (which is to say I took the bus). 

Being dropped off at the bus station with a vague notion that I should take something called a service (servEEce, like a shared taxi) I proudly plotted of towards the nearest taxi area.  Upon approach and saying something in arabic approximating 'where to Jerash,' I was told that taxis do not go there...  Instead they pointed meaningfully at the other side of the station and repeated the same thing you hear everywhere '... Jerash...Jerash....,' such as Random Person: ...food....great....left....death...fantastic..  Me: yeah thanks, wait did you say death? ('...' being mouthfuls of arabic words I cannot comprehend).  'Shukran shukran,' I mumbled not wanting to seem ungrateful at the destruction of my poorly laid plans and proceeded in the direction of their undecipherable ramblings. Reaching the next set of vehicles, and apparently looking very lost, my next guide upped the ante by leading me by the hand (literally) to the bus bound for Jerash.  'Shukran jazeelan!'

Once in Jerash I proceeded, along with 500 of my closest Jordanian school children friends, into the remains of one of the great cities of the Roman Decapolis.  Among the smiling 'hellos' and the 'Marhaba,' 'Marhabtayn,' 'Oh he speaks arabic!' (I don't) I got to see the very typical school kids.  Once again a reminder that things are not as different as we make them out to be, despite the presence of towering 2000 year old temples.  The ruins were fantastic, you could climb among or on them at your own leisure and all came with a live sound track of drums and song (did I mention the school kids?).  Even got a little impromptu Jordanian bag pipe session with the kids breaking into traditional dances.  After the side entertainment I attended the RACE, or the Roman Army and Chariot Experience.  Let me say this comes highly recommended.  A quirky english announcer narrates a live demonstration in the surviving hippodrome with a Roman phalanx, a gladiator battle where you decide who lives and who dies and lastly a chariot race finisher.  Worth the 12JD price if you're not on a budget, otherwise you can probably see most of it from the fence line.

After even more antics just trying to find the bus station (didn't think about that when I got dropped off in front of the ruins...) and finally the correct bus I was off to Irbid.  Here I met up with a fantastic peace corps volunteer who had, of all things, volunteered to show me around town.  The difference between someone living in a major city and someone bunking down in a small town became immediately apparent the first time we stepped into a taxi.  I, being the man had to take the front seat (welcome to jordan), but my new friend now in the back was doing all the talking.  Within several seconds of some serious back and forth in arabic we were out of the car and already in the process of hailing another.  Apparently the first taxi's meter was 'broken.'  Our second cab driver seemed to have a similar problem until a few laws and local officials names came out, 'oh look it's working again.'  Some prime wasta (vitamin wow), guess it really is all about who you know.  He apparently spent most of our ride into town apologizing, and by the time we arrived we even had lunch invitations to meet his family.  Our second encounter was with someone from the village where my new volunteer friend lived.  On the spot I was transformed from just myself and assumed the role of her cousin who also happened to be a volunteer from a small town down in the far south (not my last assumed role of the trip).  Great he says, how about you come have some tea? Sadly we didn't accept either invitation, but instead met up with another peace corps friend and yet another volunteer from the area.  After some food and another set of bus related adventures (though none seemingly equal to the volunteer who ended up on the wrong bus that night to a different town unwittingly embarking upon an adventure of her own) I ended right back at the station in Amman.

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