[This post was written by Clea Machold and Valentina Ruiz Leotaud]
It’s hard to believe that it’s our last day in Jordan.
After celebrating World Mental Health Day (usually Oct. 10, however, delayed this year) at a five star hotel in the heart of Amman’s business district, walking some of our favourite streets seemed like a good idea.
Little did we know that the apartment-downtown route we were so proud of figuring out, actually amounted to it taking three times as long as it should to walk downtown.
The combination of speaking only a few words of Arabic, our most polished of which is shukraan (plain thank you), and the fact that the locals don’t use street names at all, makes getting directions challenging to say the least. To further complicate things, shmal, Arabic for north, is used by Jordanians to mean left no matter where you are.
Today, after letting the route itself decide our way, we discovered that once you get to Rainbow St., which is a left, a right, a left and another right away from our apartment, Amman’s downtown core is only a left, a right and another left from there.
Ironically, this epiphany only occurred to us after almost a month of it taking half an hour to walk downtown. Not only did we walk this in 40-degree heat, we also braved it in the pouring rain. The worst part? We kept forgetting specific turns, so we usually had to retrace our steps and make sure we didn’t miss the landmarks we had decided were important for us: Africano pet shop, staircase with trash, Housing Bank, cute coffee shop, umbrella alley.
Despite our well-developed system, we still had to ask for directions every time. “You know Hashem Restaurant?” was the ‘answer’ we usually got as intended to reach any spot on the crowded Prince Mohammad St. As it turns out, we had actually passed by that place several times without realizing it. It also just so happens that it’s one of the best places to have falafel in Amman -just saying.
Our enroute anecdotes could go on for many, many lines. We bumped into a guy who took us to a tourist-trap cafe, we had a spices shop owner laugh at us because we were only buying 10 gr. of cinnamon (in the end, he just gave it to us for free), we posed for a photo with local kids at the Roman Amphitheatre who found us ‘interesting’…
We’re definitely going to miss you Amman. We are going to miss your people and their teachings -with actions rather than words- about hospitality, generosity and looking at the bright side of things.
But, we’ll be back… There are still many stories waiting to be told, and others that require follow-up from us.
On top of that, we still have to find a place where they assure us that their falafel only contains chickpeas with zero flour, so Clea can have it, and we still have to find someone who invites us to try some homemade mansaf, so Valentina can taste it one more time to make sure she really likes it, since even some Jordanians don’t.
So, see you soon Amman!
C and V