So, I spent the weekend in Madaba. It is a small, mostly christian town about 45 minutes (by bus) away form Amman. It was nice to walk down sidewalks and through crowds of people instead of flying past in cabs. Because taxis are the best way to get around Amman, often times the prime people-watching opportunities have to be forgone. I learned that Madaba was once known as the “Mosaic Capital of the World”. A claim based solely on a fairly impressive mosaic map on the of St. George’s church in downtown Madaba. The map depicted the Dead Sea and Palestine from across the Jordan River. It was cool.
When we showed up in town, sleeping arrangements had not been figured out. By chance we ran into a few acquaintances from another study abroad program, they recommended sleeping in St. George’s itself. They had supposedly done this the previous night. I jumped at the chance to sleep in a place of worship hostel-style. This seems like a archetypal world traveler maneuver. The greasy hair, the cargo pants, some Irish brothers bust out a guitar and a harmonica and we all sing the first three verses of “For What its Worth”. Turns out the place our friends stayed was just a hotel next to the church. It wasn’t even cheap. At least I still have the greasy hair (have I mentioned on here how much of a pain showering regularly is here?)
Also, we visited a hot springs out in the desert. Ironically, in a country starved for resources, this source of flaming, lava hot water is designated for ecotourism. I didn’t think about until afterwards, but there really must only be about two months out of the year when people want to pay to sit in 50 degree (celsius!) in the middle of one of the most famously barren and painfully hot deserts. I guess I already voted for the status quo with my sweet sweet American dollars.
Speaking of investing in the local economy. Souvenirs:
What do y’all think would be cool to bring back?
-shitty replica dagger from the Arab Revolt
-hand-crafted Madaba mosaic ( of a camel?)
-Chess set (“check mate” actually comes from Arabic. “check” is a synonym for king, more commonly heard as mellik, and “met” means “dead”)
Last Thursday I met through a friend the personal French tutor for the Royal Family of Jordan. He has met Abdullah II several times. I am getting closer to my goal, just need to learn French. Fast.
I lost my voice last week. I think my Arabic sounds more authentic with a little extra timbre in my voice.