First Days in Amman

Today was the first full day in Jordan! The step count was a grand total of 13,564.

Our travel process was pretty crazy. After flying from Pittsburgh to Newark on Tuesday, we took a flight from Newark to Austria to Amman on Wednesday into Thursday and spent Thursday night locked in our rooms awaiting COVID PCR tests. When looking out the window on the drive to our hotel, I couldn’t help but notice the vast wealth disparities. Huge mansions, such as those I’d associate with movie stars in LA were only minutes from small encampments and tents. Large lavish gated fences were only a few blocks from those selling fruit out of their pickup truck. However, I was more shocked by the men walking around in sweatshirts and sweatpants herding cattle in the heat I found entirely unbearable. 

We woke up this Friday morning ready to explore Amman. Since CLS is giving us a tour of downtown Amman tomorrow, we decided to venture to Amman’s citadel, a location that wouldn’t be covered.

The Citadel has a long history, dating back to the Bronze Age in 1800 BCE. It has passed under the command of several empires (the Neo-Assyrian Empire (8th century BCE), Neo-Babylonian Empire (6th century BC), the Ptolemies, the Seleucids (3rd century BCE), Romans (1st century BCE), Byzantines (3rd century CE) and the Umayyads (7th century CE).) and has many structures and buildings still remaining today. In particular, I have pictures of the Temple of Hercules and the Umayyad Palace. 

I should note that Amman was hot. When visiting the citadel at the hottest point of the day, it reached 94 degrees with little breeze. As you can see from the photos, trees were as scarce as the shade. Wearing long sleeves and skirts while in the hot Middle Eastern heat will take some getting used to…perhaps even more so than using Arabic.

Starting on Monday, the language pledge is enacted and the cohort is required to speak Arabic at almost all times. Today I used Arabic for the first time in “real life” with a taxi driver, who told me I spoke “bad Arabic,” and accompanied that with a face palm I had employed earlier after he spoke in the Jordanian dialect much too fast for my comprehension. Hopefully by the end of next week I can avoid such charades. 

Overall, I am incredibly impressed with Amman. Unlike Morocco, I did not face a large amount of harassment and felt entirely safe with my belongings. We had a fantastic lunch (pictured below), which resulted in $3.5 a person, and later found smoothies for $5 a person. The city has an entirely different “vibe” when compared to Morocco, a mix of cosmopolitan and tradition. There are parts of the city that are incredibly affordable, and others that I would describe as European and “hipster.” Within the winding streets are several different “souqs” and markets, each with their own focus, such as art, gold, produce, etc. Today we visited an artisan market open every Friday, with pictures below:

When looking at the city from above on the citadel, I couldn’t help but marvel at its vastness. After only a few hours of roaming a few streets, my interest in learning Arabic so I can communicate with the locals has only continued to soar.

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