Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Measured out measured with coffee spoons...

We said our good-byes to Petra. Though we'd bought a 2 day pass to enter ancient Petra, one day was enough. We were ready to take the long drive back to Amman, and to go home.

We bade farewell to the hotel, and to the poultry farm across the street bearing the legend "Fleshy Hens Farmer" (enough to put me off nuggets for a few days, I can tell you!)

and fueled up at the local petrol station, where they were drying their clothing on a line strung between the pumps.

Driving back to the Desert Highway, we went through the most nothing we'd ever seen.

Mike even let me drive. That should tell you.

It was on this day that I garnered my fondest memory of Jordan. I know, I know. We'd been through such spectacular, crowd-pleasing adventures, what could there possibly be upon which I would bestow such a title? Let me tell you. All of the sudden there was something I hadn't seen since we left the Pacific Northwest. Something that, to me, positively screamed SEATTLE! HOME!

Drive-through coffee stands. A whole slew of them. A whole Seattle Slew of them! No! Couldn't be. But there they were.

Abrupt breaking and pulling over at one of them. I was driving, so that's what happened. Positively Pavlovian. (The knee-jerk reaction and drool on the steering wheel.) There was the little plywood stand, and then a shade and four chairs besides. The chairs occupied by four bemused Jordanians.
Bethy and I were gleefully unbuckling and bailing out of the rental car. Mike was trying to be blase about the whole thing.

It was a pretty good act.

The four men, sitting there, obviously in the middle of doing nothing at the coffee shop, a cherished Middle Eastern Tradition, welcomed us with enthusiasm. I felt like a squirmy puppy but I tried to play the role of responsible mother and upstanding tourist.

Sit down! Sit down! They said with gestures and wide smiles, and though I was delighted that they would be so hospitable to a woman, I insisted they keep their seats. Not only politeness kept me from sitting; you know what happens when you accept an invitation. It can go all day, and I'd left the engine running for a reason.

Ordering coffees proved somewhat difficult, not that I tried to pull a Starbucks on them with some ridiculous cathecism of an order. Merely the language barrier. Not instant. Real coffee.
They talked with me a while, where were we from, we like Jordan, yes? Oh yes, very much, your country is beautiful, I assured them. We have seen Amman and Wadi Rum and Aqaba and Jerash and Petra...

"...and Qatrana!" one finished for me.
I looked confused. "Al Qatrana! Here!" he said with all the aplomb of one delivering a punchline.
We all laughed when I got it.

Bethy charmed them further by not only posing for photographs (mobiles had been whipped out in short order as soon as they saw us and one fellow ran to the next coffee stand over to retrieve his and get a picture too) but also by singing her very best Arabic songs for them:


(Recorded at a previous time along the trip. Thomas' yell in the background is a bonus. Once you open the file you can back click to the blog. Yes, this IS only for the true Bethy fans. Pretty cool to hear her sing in Arabic, though!)

She took her time picking treats for Thomas and herself from the stand...I wasn't familiar with any of the packaged sweets beyond Snickers bars and told her to go with the flow and pick whatever looked interesting.

The Jordanians also went over to the car to say Salam aleekum to Mike, but more to take photos of Thomas.

The coffee, served in paper cups, was dark and spiced and wonderful and cost next to nothing.
I thanked our hosts over and over again, woefully unable to communicate the treat it had been for me to get a coffee from them. I had tried to explain, and though there was much nodding, there was no way they could have realised the impact of getting a taste of home in an unexpected place.

That was the best.

Getting back to Amman, past stacked sheep in trucks, (didn't look comfortable).

to check into our homebase Hisham hotel one last time. Bethy had carefully documented in her travel journal all the types of transportation we'd employed: horse, camel, truck with no seatbelts, rental car, donkey. She also drew what she declared was another major high point for her of the trip: eating at Pizza Hut that day.

That night at bedtime there were soccer games and party revelers singing "Happy Birthday" over and over again outside our window in the restaurant below, but fortunately the winds came up and with the projection screens in danger of blowing away the loud crowd either went inside or the party petered out with the late hour.

The heavy winds were loud too, and the thunder through the night, leading us to wonder if we would be able to fly home to Dubai early the next morning. We did, Bethy getting to add "airport bus that you have to stand up in that took us out onto the tarmac" to her travel journal. Our only casualty was Thomas' carseat not being put onto the plane in some sort of baggage handler oversight
We did get it back a week later, which was an adventure in itself.

So that was Jordan.

I would be untruthful if I didn't admit to taking a deep breath of relief at being back in the UAE the moment I set foot in the Dubai airport. Clean water. No machine guns or soldiers or checkpoints; it felt safe. We were a little sad to trade in Salaam aleekum for hello madam and sir.

It was nice to go into our very white and clean house, and to sleep soundly, so soundly, in our own beds.

1 comment:

Jolie-Anne said...

Very inspirational. Thanks for sharing your fantastic journey with all of us.