Jordan, and Amman, in particular, is much like that weird old uncle that nobody wanted to visit. You know the guy; he lives far away in a secluded part of the country surrounded by crazy neighbours (it was strange hearing our driver say “And if you go down this road to your right, you go to Iraq), his house and yard are a mess, old tires laying in the dirt, garbage everywhere, plastic bags blowing around, cinder blocks piled up for no reason and an unfinished second floor with just a bunch of rebar sticking up into the air. Oh and sometimes there’s a dead horse at the end of the driveway. The only reason that you visit him is because he lives close a bunch of really cool stuff. But there’s something that grows on you after hanging out with him for a while. He’s very friendly and he makes a great cup of tea.
After arriving in the middle of the night, we woke, we rubbed our bleary eyes and made our way out into the Amman morning. I have to say that it was a major step down from Istanbul. It is not as taken care of as Istanbul or most of the other cities we visited. It’s well lived in. But it wasn’t without it’s charm. The call to prayer, which blares out of loudspeakers 5 times a day – the first one commencing at 4:30 am, is surreal, creepy and hauntingly beautiful. Oh, and there’s a well-preserved Roman amphitheatre right in the middle of town. Those Romans had their tentacles pretty much everywhere.
The best part about Amman, for me, was the food. We had a couple of very good meals. Although I had to wonder if one dinner we enjoyed, the guy was having a bit of a of jape with us. I ordered a nice roast chicken served on a bed of tasty rice adorned with slivers of almonds and a warm yogurt sauce. The ancient waiter brought it to me (and Tami’s lovely lamb) with a sly smirk on his withered face and only a plastic spoon with to eat it. Have you ever tried to eat an animal with only a plastic spoon? No, me neither. I don’t know if this was a joke or not but we did our best. I hope that we impressed our garçon with our spoon skills.. Mine was also delivered with a paper-thin covering of, what I think was, some sort of bread-like confection. If it’s on the plate it should be edible so I bit off a piece. It didn’t really taste like anything so I devoured it with my meal. Either I was supposed to consume it or the joke was on me and I just ate my napkin.
But we weren’t here for the city…
The next day, after a brief stop to look at a church and for Swanson to barf, we made our way to the Dead Sea. It’s a weird place. The beach is awful – garbage strewn everywhere, a rusty fence separates the beach from it’s neighbours, chairs were overturned.
You have the option of getting covered head to toe in some special “healing mud” and taking a dip or just getting yourself in the water. We opted for the latter. It was very strange to just be floating on top of the water with no effort. It’s so salty that it makes everything very buoyant.
Nothing lives in the Dead Sea (hence the name, I suppose). No watercraft traverses its surface which is odd to see. What I didn’t expect was the odd greasy film that coats your body. It actually took a few days to be completely rid of it. It’s like we had been dipped in oil and then heavily salted – ready for the deep fryer. I’m glad that I went in. I wouldn’t do it again. It was an interesting couple of days but the best had yet to come….