I keep meaning to post about my recent trip to Jordan. Let’s start with Amman.
Here is Amman, viewed from the Amman Citadel:
It’s build on a series of hills, and it’s overwhelmingly monochromatic–just shades of gray and brown.
Here’s the Temple of Hercules on the Citadel, which is the primary tourist attraction in the city:
Here’s my favorite photo from the Citadel: fingers from a massive Roman statue (presumably of Hercules):
While we were on the Citadel we heard the noontime call to prayer being broadcast from some mosque. Then we heard it from some other mosque. My son didn’t know how that works–shouldn’t they be synchronized somehow?
Here’s the Roman amphitheater, viewed from the Citadel:
It’s still in use.
The traffic in Amman is awful. My son drove us everywhere, and he was great, but this place makes Boston drivers look like they’re from the Midwest. Those hills are filled with narrow side streets, and the major streets are connected by a series of “rings” (that is, roundabouts or rotaries), and if the drivers were observing any rules on those rings, I didn’t notice them. One cultural item: if you stop to let a pedestrian cross the street, he puts his hand over his heart as a sign of thanks. That was sweet.
Here’s the street where my son lives:
There are lots of Western chain stores in Amman — Popeye’s, Hardees, Starbucks. And there are lots of chain-store wannabes. There is a local chain of donut stores that uses the orange and pink color scheme of Dunkin’ Donuts. I didn’t see a Dollar Rent-a-Car, but I saw a Dinar Rent-a-Car. Here is a faux Stop ‘n Shop in my son’s neighborhood:
It can feel pretty Western, until suddenly it doesn’t. For example:
- People smoke hookahs in restaurants after dinner. This looked pretty civilized to me, actually.
- Toilet paper in some places seems to be, er optional. That does not seem civilized to me.
- No one neuters their pets, so there are lots of stray cats roaming the streets.
- I’d say about a third to a half of women wear non-Western styles of dress, from headscarves to (some) burkas.
- I saw several old men sitting by the side of the road selling lottery tickets. This is not a wealthy country.
The thing I missed most while I was there was grass–I’d even have appreciated weeds in a vacant lot (and there were plenty of vacant lots). There just wasn’t any.
The people were unfailingly delightful.