Tales of Jordanian hospitality

May 24, 2013 in Jordan,Middle East,Places

 

I’m not one for taking photos of people. I prefer to blend into the crowds and the coffee shops, wait for that magic moment when everyone shifts for a split second and I can capture an unspoiled landscape or the blur of urban energy. I’d rather watch the barista, the market vendor, the security guard–their mannerisms, their conversations, their smiles–than actually interact with them.

Beduoin children at a school in Dana Nature Reserve, Jordan

I can usually get away with that, with observing and reading my book and hiding behind my viewfinder instead of interacting. But one of the first things I noticed in Jordan was that the friendliness was overwhelming and the hospitality impossible to ignore. Here are a few of my favorite characters from around the country:

Mosque security guard in Amman, Jordan

The security guard

When we were leaving the Blue Mosque, we came across this guard eating his lunch. Instead of being annoyed by the group of tourists brandishing DSLRs and iPhones, he grinned and chatted with our guide. When I went to take a photo of his deliciously traditional lunch–pita bread and hummus–he immediately handed me a piece of pita bread to try. At first, I demurred, but he insisted–and it was some of the best I ate in the country.

Young women in Amman, Jordan

The students

Gathered on the steps of the Amman amphitheater on their lunch break, this group of young nursing students were eager to practice their English with me. In their late teens and early twenties, most of the women were already married, engaged, mothers. They were shocked to find out that I was 24 and unmarried!

Algerian saleswoman in Jordan

The Algerian saleswoman

We stopped at a local craft store on the road to Madaba: a sprawling space of artisan jewelry, handpainted bowls, beautiful rugs. I was immediately drawn to the wall of Dead Sea products: mud masks, exfoliating scrubs, creams and lotions and soaps. When the saleswoman gave me some exfoliator to try, I detected a hint of a French accent and started to speaking to her in French. I found out she was Algerian, married to a Jordanian. We chatted about products, spa days, living in Jordan. Then, I convinced just about everyone in our group to go test out the exfoliators and hand creams–and made quite a few sales on her behalf. She was just so beautiful and friendly–I’m so glad that I came home with a slew of spa products by which to remember her!

Christine Amorose and Beduoin man in Jordan

The Beduoin on the road

We stopped at a desert vista point, and this man motioned for me to sit down next to him. In broken English supplemented with Arabic, he proceeded to tell me that I looked like the moon–supposedly, an Arabic compliment.

Young Beduoin guide in Dana Nature Reserve in Jordan

The local guide

One of the most impressive features of Feynan Eco Lodgeย is their commitment to the local community. This young Bedouin man spoke excellent English, telling us about his family, their history, their traditions, their everyday life, their relationship with the land. After leading us to watch a hazy desert sunset, he brought us into his family’s compound where his father made us traditional Arabic coffee. One of my favorite pieces of advice popped back into my head: “I’m not saying it’s right, I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m just saying it is.” From the outside, it looks like Beduoins live in shabby tents–but up close, we saw that each piece is handwoven. Our guide told us it takes the entire village of women years to create.

Young camel guide in Wadi Rum, Jordan

The camel handler

As soon as I walked by my camel, I knew she was the one: we looked each other in the eye, totally bonded, and I announced that this was the camel I wanted to ride. He told me her name was Anyan, and she was three years old. He was the youngest of the camel handlers, soft-spoken with a shy smile.

Our guide Ibrahim with local children in Amman, Jordan

Our guide, Ibrahim

I saved the best for last: Ibrahim was our guide for 10 days as we traveled throughout Jordan. He knows everyone–EVERYONE–in Jordan. He was always smiling, laughing, cracking jokes and telling stories. A husband and father of four, a former national soccer player, one of the top guides in Jordan: our trip wouldn’t have been half as incredible without him. (If you’re traveling to Jordan and looking for a guide, feel free to email me and I can put you in touch with him. Highly, highly recommend.)

Note: I was a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board, but all opinions are my own.

Also, don’t missย the best of Jordan, via Instagram.

  • Erica

    Awww these are such sweet stories! Most of my favorite travel memories are based on interaction with the local people ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Naomi Todd

    I love the picture of you with the Bedouin, really great timing whoever took the photo!

  • Heather

    Such special memories! Thanks for sharing them!

  • We felt so welcome in Jordan – the people there are amazing! Not to mention the food…

  • camorose

    Those are always the things that seem to leave the most lasting impact ๐Ÿ™‚

  • camorose

    Our tour guide Ibrahim actually took it!

  • camorose

    Glad you enjoyed it ๐Ÿ™‚

  • camorose

    Oh my gosh the food–I miss the hummus!!!

  • thebockster

    This makes me miss the land where I grew up, Saudi Arabia! My family travelled to Jordan by car when I was about 7 or so…it was so beautiful! The whole Middle East is such a delight; I’d love to go back. So glad you enjoyed your time there!

  • The local people definitely make or break a trip for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ This country looks incredible and I’m so glad you got to meet a lot of the locals.

  • Leah Travels

    This is great, my friend. Thank you for bringing back such fond memories.

  • camorose

    Absolutely loved it! Would love to go back ๐Ÿ™‚

  • camorose

    Thanks, Leah! Miss you!

  • Rebecca and the World

    Fantastic – gorgeous pics of the people of a country I’d love to visit.

  • camorose

    So glad you enjoyed the piece–I think you’d love Jordan!

  • Enjoyed your post! I love that you highlighted the great people of Jordan and your interaction with them.

  • camorose

    Thanks! One of my favorite parts of Jordan.

  • Pingback: Capture the Color: Jordan | C'est Christine()

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