Trip Start Oct 13, 2009
Trip End Nov 26, 2009

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Where I stayed
Ibis Hotel

Flag of Jordan  ,
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

        "Welcome" is a word I hear often while walking around Amman. If you approach any shopkeeper, juice stall worker, restaurant worker, they immediately say "Welcome", and with sincerity too. This is often followed later by "you ARE welcome" - not "you're welcome" casually tossed into the air as in the US, but the three words distinctly pronounced, with sincerity, and usually while making eye contact.
Standing at a viewpoint on the hill, looking across to the pillars of the Temple of Hercules opposite, two young men on my left say "welcome". "Thank you", I say.
"Is this your first visit to Jordan?"
"Yes, it is."
"You ARE welcome. Enjoy your visit."

Walking by a small cafe at the City Hall around dusk, all the tables are filled with men drinking coffee, puffing on hookahs (I think that is what they are called) or playing cards. Three old men playing rummy see me looking for a table, and invite me to sit with them for a coffee. So I join them for 20 mins or so, drink a coffee, watch their game (rummy with two decks, fourteen cards in hand), have sporadic conversation. I ask if I can buy them a drink, and they say "No, we asked you to join us; you are our guest."
When I am ready to leave they won't even let me pay for my coffee. "You ARE welcome. Enjoy your stay in Jordan."

Walking along the street earlier, a 40ish man was just sitting down with his lunch at a table on the pavement:
"Welcome. Where are you from?"
"Oh, lovely people. Is this your first visit to Jordan?"
"Yes, it is."
"You ARE welcome. Where will you go?"
"Well, I'm planning to hire a car and go to the north of the country."
"Ah, I am from the north. I will give you my mobile number and you can call me if you have any questions, and if you go there, I will meet you and take you to visit my family."

So I have booked a car for tomorrow and decided to call Muitham with a couple of questions. I mentioned that I am hoping to go to Umm Qais, a small town with great views over Israel, the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights. Apparently there is only one, rather basic, hotel there so I asked Muitham what the hotel is like. He says "No, no, you don't stay in hotel. I am from Umm Qais and I live there with my mother. You will stay at my house."

Hmmm, I've never been offered a room in a stranger's house before, in all my travels.
Should I, or shouldn't I?
I said I will call him again on Friday morning.
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