First Impressions of Jordan

First impressions of Jordan…
On the flight we ended up next to Lucas who works with Musicians Without Borders. He was an awesome travel companion and we managed to talk about a lot for about half the flight. The second half we all passed out. Jen had a rougher transfer directly from New York to Paris to Jordan. We woke up for the landing, which might be one of the most interesting landings. There were patches of darkness. We think that part of it was part desert, part Palestine with no power. We’re not sure, but it was definitely interesting to see lines of lights (border or highway) and then nothing on one side with lights of a city on the other.
When we got off the plane we met Lucas’ coworker Brendan. Lucas plays the double bass, Brendan the cello. It was nice to have some travel companions for a while, also to meet people who work in a similar field. They’re working with refugees and people in conflict.
At the customs desk they scan your eyes! After they put a pretty visa and stamp in my passport they sent me to another desk to scan my eyes! It was crazy. The man was nice but asked Jen a few more questions and then asked our new friends even more questions. I think we got away more easily because we’re women. We got our bags and were met by Mousa, our driver. We could tell right away that he was going to be quite a character. He spoke in a mix of Arabic and English with us. We decided he would be our moalim, teacher, as well as our driver. He made jokes throughout the ride while helping us work out our schedule.
Jordan was interesting. Like in Paris, there’s an IKEA a few miles right outside the airport. There strips of darkness and then trees. It reminded me of India for a brief moment. We passed by on a strip of highway where there were people who had camped along the side of the road with hookahs and / or food. There were a few tents that you could see had electricity and stuff going on inside, but we drove fast enough that I couldn’t see much.
When we got to Amman West area, Mousa pointed out that it was the very rich area. The houses were huge! There were also a bunch of embassies. The Syrian embassy looked poor and had a barbed wire on the top of the exterior walls. The Saudi Arabian embassy was on the other side of the street. It looked like a palace. Mousa pointed out a Starbucks and both Jen and I couldn’t believe that Starbucks was everywhere. It made me think of Turkish coffee, and after mentioning that to Mousa he stopped on the side of the road at a small shop and got us both some coffee. It was very, very strong, but very tasty.
In the area of the hotel, Mousa pointed out where we could eat and get some juice and then dropped us off. After getting settled, we went out to eat some amazing falafel. Jen, rightly so, didn’t let me take any pictures, but I really want to. The location was outside. We didn’t get any funny looks; Mousa let us know the neighborhood is very, very safe and we could walk out at midnight alone and nothing would happen. We’re not planning on doing that, but it’s nice to know that it’s safe enough that we could. We ate, while scoping out how other people were going about without any utensils. It was really the best falafel I’ve ever had. On our way back we got some tamarind juice but we’re having a hard time drinking it because it’s so sweet. The tea at dinner was also extremely sweet.
Now, we’re back at the hotel and getting ready for our first day and meeting some amazing women from our partner organization.

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