by Jemmina

Last week I travelled to Jordan for a holiday and a Visa run(My visa ran out on Wednesday and I needed to leave, and come back to renew it). Amman is something else! While I’d been to Jordan with my family two years ago, we never made it to ‘Amman. The modern city of  Amman is relatively new, infact, while standing on the Citadel looking over the city you read signs stating that the oldest hospital was built in the 1920’s and the road just below was built in 2005. It was so nice to be in an Arab city that is so modern and delveloped, it is a nice change.

My friend(a Jordanian/Palestinian with an American passport) was also doing a visa run so I was able to hang out with her and stay with her uncle(who decided to go to Egypt a day after I arrived, so we had the house to ourselves). In Amman we went to the movies and a mall. A mall. While there are malls and cinema’s in Jerusalem I haven’t had much chance to check them out yet so this was a treat. H&M were having a sale so we did some shopping and looked at some other stores. I also found a Pumpkin Patch. In a mall, in Amman, in Jordan, on the other side of the world. This got me a little bit excited. We tried ordering McDonalds(they deliver in Jordan). But after several attempts it just didn’t work. What a let down.

Every evening there was a festival being held on the Citadel called Citadel Nights. There was a concert on every night, food and stalls. If Ramadan has helped me appreciate anything, its the summer evenings, its lovely to just sit and enjoy the sights, sounds and smell of the evening. Its like the world comes alive after 8(and Iftar!). I rationalized that this was my vacation, so I shopped for souvenirs and even dressed up like a Bedouin for a photo. At one point a 17yr old girl decided I was her ‘sahibti'(my friend), grabbed my arm, went around to all of her friends and introduced me as such, after walking around for ten minutes she decided that she needed to introduce me to her family as well. Someone very famous was performing that night so the festival was packed! After walking around looking for them for 35-40 minutes we found them in the middle of the crowd. It wasn’t weird, awkward or uncomfortable. I sat with them for 2 hours watching the concert and talking to them. They invited me to have Iftar with them the next day, unfortunately I already had something planned with Areej. I love this part of Arab hospitality.

I also got to hang out with Areej’s family, who just happened to call us before dinner everyday. We never went hungry. We talked, played cards and ate food. At one point we were getting a lift home and my friend informed me that our driver, a relative, was a first cousin of the King. Just casually getting a ride through Amman with the Royal family, don’t mind if I do. On my last night we ate at my friends Aunts house, they were celebrating something(I’m not sure what, they’re always celebrating) and invited their Muslim neighbours to have Iftar with them, on one table there was warak dawali, mansaf and Kanefeh. I think that is what heaven is going to look like.

Thursday morning I woke 10 minutes after my taxi arrived(opps). Luckily I had packed everything and could hop straight into the taxi. I decided to go to the  Sheikh Hussein crossing /North Border,which is not the way I came in and is further away from Amman/Jerusalem. Two days before hand, my friend Erika went for her visa run, to Egypt and when she came back in, they only gave her 30 days to get her stuff together and buy a plane ticket. This had me a little worried,everything about this trip seems to have been hand-crafted by God, but even so 10% of me was a little worried that something would go wrong. Everything went fine, I waited for about 20 minutes while they asked me what I was doing here and where my parents were born. The officials were incredibly nice and friendly, and by the end of it I actually felt like I was genuinely being welcomed, one of the ladies even took her time to write down bus lines and times for me.

I caught a taxi for 50 sheckles that drove 5 minutes down the road to the bus stop, where I caught a 2 hour bus to Jerusalem for 42 sheckles. The bus passed quite a few army bases, and the soldiers going home for the weekend outnumbered civilians 10-1. After the I got over the idea that they weren’t here to check my passport(usually the only reason I see soldiers on buses is to check my passport at the checkpont), I slept for almost the whole 2 hour bus ride. Only to wake up to find my phone stolen. Bummer.