when our group split up in damascus, two of the people went ahead to jordan and the email we got back from jennie said “amman is a total hole, dont bother going”. well, we had to at least pass through amman in order to get pretty much anywhere in jordan, so we stopped here hoping that we may like the city anyways. well, although it may not be a total hole, it’s definitely nowhere near as nice as damascus. it doesnt have nearly as much of that interesting middle eastern character and is full of a lot of dirty looking chunky concrete buildings. it’s extremely westernized, has it’s own pizza hut kfc burger king popeyes, and the number of people wearing non-western clothing are very few and far between.
when we got out at the bus stop at night, the desperation of taxi drivers here became evident to us instantly. one cab that was about to pick up some locals, threw their car into reverse to drive away from them and try to pick up up instead. we avoided that cab. the next cab we saw, there was a middle eastern man trying to get into it… he even had the back door open, but the cab driver totally ignored him and kept screaming to us asking where we were going. they were desperate to pick up tourists (so they could double charge us) and it was just disgusting how rude they were to the locals here. during the rest of our time here, taxis constantly honk at us and try to pick us up. they’re absolutely desperate for toursit business.
despite their willingness to pick us up, these taxi guys have no idea what they’re doing. name a street.. pretty much any street in town and they have no clue where it is. they dont know where the restaurants we name are, nor the bus companies etc. the only way fo getting anywhere is to tell them an important landmark, get dropped off there and then walk the remaining several blocks to wher we want to go. we’ve spent a ton of time walking *after* having paid for a taxi. luckily, these walks are totally safe, even late at night, partially since the city has hardly any crime (we were told) and partially because there are armed soldiers with huge machine guns hanging out all over the place. dont get me wrong, these guys are actually usually extremely nice. one guard called us over, and i expected the “where’s your passport!! where are you going!” bullshit that we had gotten in russia when stopped by armed guards, but instead he just welcomed us to jordan and spent some time giving us advice on where to go. despite his kindness, it’s definitely unnerving having the machinegun slung over his shoulder be poiting at your stomach. logically i know that the safety is on, and it’s totally safe blah blah blah, but regardless, i would much rather have the thing pointed elsewhere!
the taxi drivers arent the only thing that make this place a bit confusing. first off, their money is divided into a thousand pieces, instead of 100 like every other country so prices can be 1.254 or something like that. next, they (like other countries in the middle east) use indian numerals, instead of the one’s we use back home which are know paradoxically as arabic numerals. so every time we see numbers on signs, on our hotel door, etc we have to decipher what number it really is. also, our guidebook section on amman is hopeless. a bunch of the retaurants it mentions dotn exist, or are not in the same place, etc. other restaurnats are mentioned, but then not shown on the map so we have no clue where they are.
but hey, despite all these things, amman really isn’t as bad as i may have made it sound. we’ve heard it has a vibrant nightlife and the restaurant/bar we ate at seemed really cool. also, it has some sights, but we managed to spend the whole day by not seeing a single one of them (except this one mosque that we bumped into on accident). instead we spent time inside fast food restaurants , inside a bookstore (we ran out of books), inside a pharmacy (we ran out of toothpaste), inside a bus station (buying tickets outta here), shopping for hookas, and inside our hotel which is a bizarre situation in itself.
the hotel promised hot water, but there is only luke warm. there’s a tv in the room, but it doesnt work. there is a heater, but they try not to turn it on. we had to ask a few times just to get towels and toilet paper. the two guys that run the hotel, just sit on the couch all day and watch tv while sometimes yelling at this poor other guy to fetch us stuff. we ask about the cable:broken, we ask about the phone:broken. sheez…
we definitely still would like to see what amman has to offer, but we’ve decided to make a detour and come back later. we had intended to go to israel after jordan, but our friend lora reminded us that hanukkah starts in just a few days, and it would probably be really cool to be there on the first night of hannukah. there’s no way we have time to go down to petra and finish it by the time hanukkah starts, so we’re putting of jordan for a bit and we’ll go se israel first. tomorrow morning, we get on a bus to tel aviv!
oh yeah, i just remembered one other thing.. unfortunately my journal wouldnt be complete without me mentioning kofte. kofte are these “kebabs” made out of ground lamb. they actually dont taste half bad if it wasn’t for their horrendous appearance. kofte have the misfortune of being long, cylindrical, brown, and lumpy. their resemblance to shit is incredible. seriously, they look the exact same going in as they do coming out. having a few kofte laying on your plate, is enough to make you not wanna eat dinner. unfortunately, in the middel east, they try to sneak kofte into everything. order kebab, you get kofte, order “allepo” you get kofte, and there are maybe a dozen other names for it. we would never in a million years get these by choice, and yet we’ce eaten them dozens of times just cause we dont know what we’re ordering. just last night cary ordered a kebab and forgot to specify chicken.. and guess what we got… a huge plate of Kofte. UGH.