Sunday, August 24, 2008

Jordan: Observations in Conclusion

A hazy sheen lingered between the sun and the freshly washed window of the taxi. The sun rose into the mist and dust, creating a blurry outline as trees and highway rushed past. It seemed odd to be saying good-bye to a country as the sun was rising.
The King’s Highway once again stretched before us, once again sparsely populated. Seemingly the only creatures moving at 6:00am were dogs, picking through the trash by the road in a small, motley pack. The taxi driver was silent, a rare occurrence in the world of talkative Arabs.
Jordan’s movement toward development can be seen in the buildings as we head out of Amman. Japanese civil engineers may not be able to straighten all of the city’s winding roads or disjointed intersections, but Amman is a city to be reckoned with. Its streets are wide and the city is clean in comparison with capitals such as Cairo and even Rome. The amount of construction in the city is impressive, especially in comparison with other third-world countries where unfinished buildings often seem to be more common than on-going construction. Current construction includes what will eventually be the largest mall in Jordan.
Jordanian patriotism is also something to be reckoned with. Driving through Amman, ever overpass is lined with a row of Jordanian flags waving in the breeze. Passing through narrow roads in the countryside, twisting roads in the cities, or the flat, smooth road of the King’s Highway, posters and billboards with pictures of the King are far from unusual. To surround such pictures with more Jordanian flags seems to be quite common. Jordanians hold their King in high affection, and that affection must be contagious – even foreign residents feel a sense of Jordanian patriotism. Everyone, according to my Iraqi host, has at least one CD of traditional Jordanian music in their car.
It is easy to understand why so many foreigners, both Arab and non-Arab, choose to make Amman their home. According to some, Jordan is seen as the most stable country in the region – which can certainly be understood when taking the current turbulence in areas such as Iraq and Lebanon into consideration. However, there are clearly reasons beyond that. Jordanians are open, friendly people. They are quick to smile and generous with hospitality – traits that seem to permeate the Middle East. Amman can be noisy and crowded, but its crowds and noise are of a lesser intensity than that of, for example, Cairo, and the pollution is certainly less.
Beyond the obvious differences in the city itself, there are other clear differences between Amman and Cairo. One of these is the style of dress. In Amman, the percentage of young women who have adopted a more Western style of dress seems to be much higher than in Cairo. While in Cairo young women have found ingenious ways to be highly fashionably and still subscribe to the traditional Muslim modesty, Amman’s younger generation seems, at least at first glance, to be moving in a different direction.
As the Jordanian countryside flashes outside my window at 80 km/h in the glow of the rising sun, I know I will be back.

1 comment:

  1. OK I am finally on and have enjoyed catching up on all the things you have done so far. Thanks for doing this blog and hope you will continue!! I am thrilled that you have been able to go to so many places since your arrival. Wish I was with you!! Love ya, mama