I think my mom was a little worried when I left Norway to go to Jordan for a week. She knew that I would visit a conference for three days and then live with my friend Hashem’s family for five more days, but I do understand her worry. What us Norwegians know about the Middle East we either learn from pro-Israeli missionaries or from scary news and documentaries on TV. How could I, however, not take the opportunity when my friend invited me to stay with him for a few days after the conference I was invited to in Amman, Jordan? Who wouldn’t want to experience a whole new culture where the West meets the East in a region that has been the starting point of two huge empires, three world religions, a language with 280 million speakers and Qatar Oil – the sponsor of FC Barcelona? So I convinced my mom, got my tickets and started preparing for something that was impossible to prepare for.
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When I told Hashem that I was coming to visit him, he was ecstatic and started right away as this personal travel agent who organized food, Petra and shopping. Of course I couldn’t object, and now that I understand it better I would call it a common Middle Eastern thing; they are amazing hosts and brings any good friend into their family. That was probably, perhaps apart from the food, the best thing I experienced throughout my whole visit, and I honestly call them family now.
Now, if you are a person who really value good quality food like me, you will love Jordan. I grew up in an agricultural area, so I know what fresh, proper food is like, and Jordanians showed just the same need for high-quality food like me. And in addition to being of good quality, the food also tasted amazing. I honestly think that I’ve never eaten so much excellent tasting food throughout a whole week like I did in Jordan.
If you ever go to Jordan, you simply have to visit Petra. Petra is an ancient city where almost all the buildings are carved out of stone. It’s really spectacular, and they have 300 feet tall buildings just popping out of stone. And if you manage to walk in the heat to the temple that is on top of a mountain you’ll also get a fantastic view where you can see all the way to the Mediterranean. Go early in the morning, bring water, sunscreen and a cap and you’re ready to go! “But yes,” we noted, “they really must have had a lot of spare time…”
As I said, my mom was rather skeptical about me going to the Middle East, and I do understand her. I knew more about Al Qaida than Jordan before I actually searched around for info to get ready for my adventure, and I learned so much more when I actually visited. One of my main concerns about my visit was the dress code. Would I have to wear a hijab in public? Could I wear shorts? Yes, they are conservative when it comes to clothing, but as long as you keep your (long) pants on and don’t flash your cleavage or shoulders you’ll be fine. 6% of Jordanians are Christians, so you can even go to church if that fancies. But I do recommend knowing someone local (or understand that you have to pay 3 to 50 times more for everything), as you get so much more of that cultural experience I know I sought for.
Anyway; Jordan, so long!
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