Welcome to Jordan
So much space… so little life
November 2022 – Wadi Rum, Jordan
“In the desert of life the wise person travels with a group, while the fool prefers to travel alone.”
Thankfully, I traveled up and down Jordan with three friends : two Americans and a Canadian. There was a lot of giggling, many cultural references that I never got, and enough references to Arrested Development to last a lifetime. Our mutual love for ice-cream, food, photography and people bonded us. And I got to eat all the olives because their mutual distaste for the fruit bonded them. They serve olives at every meal in Jordan. Olives, bread and hummus. EVERY MEAL.
And then, there are the people we met along the way. The men and women who shared their stories, their tables, and a bit of their country with us. There was Anas and Lana, brother and sister from Amman who are fighting every day to move their country and their culture forward. There was Ahmed who was born in what is now the Roman site of Umm Qais and who participated in creating the Jordan Trail. There was MaySoon who hosted us with so much grace and warmth and who shared not only her family life but also personal life as a Jordanian woman, a teacher and an entrepreneur. There was Muhammed, bedouin and philosopher, who might very well be one of the last true romantics. There was Mamoun, researcher and archeo-astronomist who is on the verge of transforming the perception the entire planet has of Petra. And there were so many more along the way : Mutaz, Raffaita, Ibrahim, Youssef,… so many that shared a story, a meal, a… “Welcome to Jordan”.
Definitely never felt like I was traveling alone.
Jordan is a fascinating country. While being extremely arid (it’s the second poorest country when it comes to access to water), the sights can be breathtaking. I definitely have a soft spot for Wadi Rum, the bedouin camp, the cool nights with their star-filled sky, and the mystical moments when you’re totally alone. Not a soul miles around. Not a noise. Just sand dunes and intriguing rock formations.
I loved Wadi Rum.
Before landing in Amman, I faced my cultural bias and all the stories I had in my head about the Middle-East. I faced them and I locked them up in a mental cabinet because I didn’t want them to pollute my perception of the places I was about to visit. I realized I didn’t know much about the country, about its young and old history, about its artists, its religious ties, its cuisine.
What I learned challenged my old beliefs and sometimes brushed against my white-privileged-liberal-queer-friendly-and-somewhat-feminist principles. And they were fantastic lessons in acceptance that I wish for everyone to have a chance to experience.
There’s only one thing left to say : the money is in the watermelon stand.
Written by Audrey
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