A strong wind is mercilessly raising the sand all around, obscuring the beauty of this magic land! Deceptive and unpredictable in desperate rage! Huge and strong sand clouds rushing across the air making an ominous silence and uncertain over the desert. Sandstorm is coming! Nothing to see than a pile of sand! Only a fear, a beating hearts, and desire to stay alive!
But Bedouins – “kings of the Wadi Rum desert” wait peacefully, knowing that the sun always rises after the storm. They have already learned how beautiful can be that demanding, seemingly wild and unfriendly desert. Like nomads, they have already met its temper. They had not a safe life, home, constantly changed the dwelling place for moving cattle through the desert, but they have survived! Today they are modern hosts who welcome guests in the middle of the desert, accommodating them in modern luxurious capsules, serving them a delicious dish specialty zarb. That is meat roasted for long hours in a special underground hole, covered with sand. All that background enables an unforgettable travel experience to “modern nomads” wishful exploring strange ambiance and boosts adrenaline.
Morning’s rays over the desert bring them a new revelation. Sun rays play mischievous light and shadow games overlapping the space, illuminating orange sand and unique landscapes. New sightseeing encourages them to uncover yet unknown feelings.
Yes, you guessed, we are in Jordan, Middle East Islamic country which with Syria, Palestine, Lebanon creates a region called the Levant. Jordan is the country where the beauty of the desert, valleys, mountains, Death salt sea, rich cultural heritage deliver the new sense. It comes from the “high energy voltage” of local people, and their temperamental ancestors’ souls.
Impact of two cultures, Arabian and Mediterranean, give them hot temper, talkativeness, and warm hospitality gift. “Jordanians take pride in hosting guests”- explained Joanna, my virtual host, young Polish woman, happily married to Jordanian and his faith. “Jordanian hospitality is an old tradition rooted in the times when people here were still Bedouins. The rule was that a stranger could be hosted in a Bedouin household for three days without telling the host the reason for visiting. Even the host couldn’t ask for the reason himself during those three days. It was against the Bedouin honor code. Till now Jordanians proudly mention their three-day rule.”
In the north-central, there is Amman, Jordan’s capital. The busy town that never sleeps and its streets are always full of life. The locals in their daily routine smoke shisha and drink tea or coffee. Young guys like to play cards and dance dabkeh on a street while girls like to visit restaurants or enjoy a cozy café near Paris Square in Weibdeh.
“Do you want more fun in the places by the seaside?”- Joanna asked me. “Well, let’s go to Aqaba, the town on the Red Sea coast. It is a great place for it. The luxurious hotels occupy the beach. At that area tourists can enjoy bikini on private beaches since the public beach, in the central part of Aqaba city is reserved for more conservative locals. There are also Ayla and Tala Bay, closed districts with lots of hotels and well – kept beaches where you can enjoy bikini, drinks, and good music”.
The Dead Sea coast is also a place with lots of resorts and private beaches where tourists can swim and never sink due to salty water, enjoy the SPA treatments based on amazing Dead Sea mud. “But be careful” – Joanna warns, “the temperature during the summer passes 40 degrees so the best time for visiting is before mid-June or after mid-September”.
Wow, what a beautiful and interesting kingdom! Joanna is a great cultural ambassador of her new country. While I was talking with her I was feeling like I was there, impatiently waiting for new stories.
Petra town! It is a fantastic ancient city carved in rose-tinted stones, hence it’s called ‘Rose City’. It was established by Nabataeans in 4th century BC, a mysterious civilization that is still being discovered thoroughly to this day. The city is strategically situated in a canyon and the only way to go there is through a narrow passage called siq. There is the most known site of Petra, Al-Khazaneh -The Treasury building. According to the legend, there is a treasure hidden on top of Al-Khazaneh. “So if you are courageous enough, climb to the top and check it”- suggested Joanna with a smile, continuing more seriously: “The Nebo mountain is special, too. It is a well-known place already mentioned in the Old Testament.”
According to the Bible Moses reached the peak of Mount Nebo to see the Promised Land – Canaan and God told him at that time that he would die before entering it.
There, from the top is an amazing view of the entire Holy Land. Those who reach the top can still feel what Moses felt. “That’s why the place is so special for the believers. People stay exactly at the same place where Moses was standing and look at the same view as he saw” – explained Joanna.
After visiting all of those beautiful and interesting places it is time to rest and enjoy Jordanian cuisine. Mmmmm! The best Jordanian national dish mansaf- tender lamb cooked in a white sauce made of jameed and shaneena served with rice and shrak, very thin, almost transparent bread must be tried. The same goes for Levant specialties grilled lamb, magloubeh, dawali -stuffed grapes leaves, kofta – minced meat baked in an aromatic sauce, hummus, and falafel at Hashem Restaurant in Downtown Amman, and mezzeh, a variety of cold and hot appetizers.
“Oh yes, don’t forget to buy some souvenirs there for long memory of that amazing trip.” Joanna “took” me for a walk along Downtown Amman street to show the best place to buy souvenirs.
Shemag definitely must be bought. It is the traditional red and white scarf that many men wear here along with egal, the black band that used to be a rope used for catching camels, but now it’s just worn for aesthetics purposes. If you want an outfit, then buy madraga, a traditional folklore dress worn by women still till this day to events like weddings and other parties.
Downtown is so big and packed with many interesting shops, but souq – marketplace gives a special experience.
Always try to haggle and negotiate the prices because it’s a part of Jordanian culture as well! Don’t be afraid when the seller greets you in his shop with coffee. IT’S THE WAY OF SAYING “WELCOME”.