Now starting at center midfielder for Real Jordan Rift Valley...
Right. I'm in a new country for the first time since I left America. It's different. They don't speak English in Jordan like they do in Israel. It's for the best. My Arabic is still in a sorry state but getting better fast.
Jordan's tourist sites, with the exception of Petra, appear to be rather understated, but in many cases turn out to be totally epic. The Romans romped around here for a while I guess, and a lot of their work is still around. Anyways it's not the Romans I came to meet in Jordan, it's the Jordanians, or, as it turns out, the Palestinians, because everyone here is Palestinian except for one traffic policeman I met.
There aren't very many non-Arabs in Jordan. I may have looked generally Semitic with a buzzed head, but it's pretty clear I'm a foreigner now, and probably Jewish. No matter; I've only lied once about my religion, and was rewarded with a Free Palestine-Boycott Israel sticker. And, though I feel conspicuous when I first set foot in each new town or city, I quickly become comfortable, to the point where I can confidently stroll instead of timidly tip-toe with my head down.
As advertised, the Jordanian people are very helpful and welcoming. I've gotten free meals, invitations to homes, and escorts to the bus station. As in the West Bank, Arabs seem to do a lot of chilling. My American walking partner suggested that that's just because there's a lot of unemployment. But I don't think that explains it fully. The Middle East is not as saturated with "things", and additionally I think a choice is made to spend more time sitting and talking. It means that they have a lot more time for the rest of the world than Americans sometimes do. I can easily be merged into a late afternoon loitering session by the Mosque. So when I return home, I intend to personally begin a new representation of American hospitality.
The talking I've done has really shone some new light on the Arab, and Muslim perspective. Much like the Judaism at the Ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva, I find myself exposed to rather convincing arguments about Islam's beauty and the Palestinians' struggle. I begin to see exactly how America is viewed by this part of the world. Really, I think anybody who is going to make a bold judgment about America's democratic or imperialist agenda, or Israel's struggle for survival or occupation, they ought to just talk to one Arab living in the Middle East. Once again, I realize that I can theorize all I want, but until I experience something first-hand, until I actually walk around a city in Jordan, read a newspaper there, meet a person there, I don't really know what's going on.
I've been to Irbid, Jerash, Ajloun, and Amman, and been fascinated by them all, but it's, perhaps predictably, the way of life that is most interesting.
And also the hillside villages that I can't stop immortalizing with my camera.