Jordan, a small country surrounded by some the world’s most powerful and turbulent countries, is rarely heard of back home. There is a general ignorance of the cultural and social situation and it is shadowed by the term “Middle East”, a term often followed by red alert/ terror/ horror by newscasters. Spending a few days in a country obviously does not equip me to understand its cultural and political intricacies, but it does shed light on some stereotypes.
Jordan is the first predominantly Muslim state I have been to. Which, for me, meant I heard the call to prayer 5 times a day and didn’t find bacon on the breakfast menu. I saw some people stop to pray but in no way did life pause because of the prayer. At worst, you had to wait a few minutes for someone to pray (this only happened once). Most women wore a headscarf, a few wore the full burka. I did not wear anything to cover my head and found it caused no unwanted attention and felt completely safe. Women looked very fashionable with their colorful shawls and matching purses and makeup. I didn’t see many women working but I saw some and I suspect there are more in the modern parts of the city. Suzanna seemed to be treated with a great deal of respect by the locals. Omar also told us women are free to do and wear whatever they want.
Generally, I never felt unsafe or uncomfortable. People were very kind and helpful. Some people would be interested in chatting for a bit. The cabbies or vendors asking you to buy (“hey lady one JD” “my friend” “free to look” “where are you going”) was a bit annoying but a simple “no thanks” usually silenced most, the more persistent vendor needed a repeated no.
The Good: The rocks, the desert, the vast natural and ancient beauty! Hummus and falafel! The People.
The Bad: The garbage. Too much litter
And The Odd: No throwing toilet paper in the toilet. Lots of cars beeping.