How often have you read something like that? And how often have you gone somewhere and actually found it to be true as a tourist? Well, in Jordan, as soon as you get off the main tourist track it immediately becomes true.
After the fairly painless crossing into Jordan, I headed west to Jerash to check out the ruins and get off the main north/south road. unfortunately I also ended up on some roads that were closed for construction and had no clue how to keep going without getting hopelessly lost. When along came my introduction to Jordanian hospitality and generosity.
When I stopped to get my bearings, he pulled over and asked (in very broken english) if he could help. After some false starts, he understood that I wanted to get to Jerash and told me to follow him. I thought he was going to take me to the nearest intersection and point me on my way. Not a chance. 20 minutes later we stop at the little sign marking Jerash city limits! I try thanking him, but he insists the only thanks he wants is for me to come to his house and share some tea. 10 minutes later we are at his house, the women have scurried away, and I’m surrounded by local men who only speak Arabic and want to know everything about me. The slow communication is interrupted when my benefactor returns with tea and a large plate of various local dishes (luckily I had some fresh baklava I got from Syria before I left so I could offer the host something) . After tea I’m informed that I must stay for dinner and the night- they just wouldn’t be proper hosts unless they offered and I accepted. My first reaction is to gauge the distance to the door and wonder if I could dash out before anyone grabs me. My second, and more considered one, is that these are actually just good people who have a wonderful sense of hospitality. The things is, I really didn’t want to stay. I wanted to get to Jerash and honestly, there is only so much you can say when you share about 10 words and 2 hours really exceeds that limit- all night would just be painful. After many excuses and intimations of people I had to meet, I was able to leave, but not without mixed feelings. Spending the night in a small village would have been cool, but I think I had really enjoyed the experience as much as I was going to.
So, off to Jersah. The town itself doesn’t really have tonnes to offer, but the ruins are in good shape and not very crowded. I think walking around town as the sun went down was about the highlight- the mosques and ruins were well lit and the darkness helped hide the details of modern life and allowed me to imagine the place as it once was.
Jordan was certainly looking good.