Back when we were deciding whether or not we should move to Abu Dhabi, we came for a visit and various people showed us various things which were variously convincing or not. One evening, we sat around a table with some of the mister’s colleagues and they showed us the photos of their recent trip to Jordan.
I was utterly captivated by their photos and declared that the Dead Sea would be a wonderful place to spend my 40th birthday. There were other things that clinched the deal, but that moment was one of the defining moments in our decision-making.
We didn’t quite get to Jordan for my 40th, but have just returned from a 6 day trip, and it was bloody brilliant.
Here’s a picture of the lads running to catch up with us at Jerash. They are running, not sitting around moaning about the heat and the long walk and so on, because I have just called down to them that I’ve found us a shortcut (‘you’re good’, the mister said with awe in his voice as we watched the lads jump up and begin to run).
Here’s me and the lads at Petra. How the mister managed to get this photo without anyone between the camera and us I will never know. It is high season in Jordan at the moment, and there was possibly a gazillion of us modern day humans at Petra that day.
And here is a photo of me floating in the Dead Sea. How do you know it is the Dead Sea and not just some other random sea? Because I am in it. Have you ever heard of me being in the sea? Case, I rest it. I stayed in until I could feel my nipples stinging which was a little less time than you might imagine.
The lads, they hated being in the Dead Sea and lasted about ten seconds. It is, I think, pretty much a been there, done that kind of experience, in that the weirdness of it was rather brilliant but not something I will ever feel the urge to repeat.
I have a friend who says of things, ‘It is to be seen’ and that Jordan is. I mean Petra was absolutely one of the most stunning places I have ever been. But what I really loved was being immersed in an Arabic and Islamic culture. The difference between there and here is that in Jordan we were surrounded by Arabic speakers – in the shops and the hotels and the cafes and on the street. Here, there are of course many, many Arabic speakers but so many of the casual interactions in a day are in English. I think this is probably because in Jordan, there is much less reliance on imported labour. While a lot of people have moved to Jordan from other countries (65% of the population are Palestinian-Jordanian and there’s also a lot of refugees from Iraq), it is not like here where around 80% of the population is expat labour. Many expats are from Arabic-speaking countries such as Egypt and Lebanon and Jordan, but there’s also a substantial number of ‘western expats’ and expats from countries such as the Philippines. Our common language is English and for someone like me, English dominates our interactions.
One of the real pities about living here is that we are not learning more Arabic. I have had a few lessons, but haven’t even really got my head around the alphabet and while I’m full of good intentions, I think realistically, I’m unlikely to leave with anything more substantial than the most basic of greetings. The thing is that it would be so much easier to learn in a place like Jordan where any language skills would get much more of a workout. In my job, I would have had much more of an opportunity, because the 4 other members of my team were all native Arabic speakers, but now I’m not there I barely come into contact with the Arabic language from one day to the next. This is sort of my own fault and sort of something over which I don’t have much control.
Anyway, this isn’t supposed to be a post about what’s wrong with living here. It’s supposed to be about what an excellent time we had in Jordan. Which we did. And you know, on a clear day when you’re bobbing up and down in the Dead Sea, you can see clear across to Jerusalem. Makes you think, that does.
Here is a photo from Mt Nebo which is one of the places where Moses stood. In the distance you can’t see the Dead Sea or the Promised Land, but Moses could because it wasn’t so dusty when he was standing there and because he was looking at the real thing and not some hastily taken photo.