Welcome to Jordan, part two

Some observations:

• I am not a very assertive person. In that sense, this past week in Jordan has been good for me, as the simple task of crossing the street is quite difficult to do without that particular quality. I have now learned to look both ways and just take my chances, since waiting for either a lull in traffic or someone to stop for you would entail waiting till kingdom come, and I’m only here for two weeks.

• the whole concept of ‘when in Rome, do as Romans do’ is lost on some people. Women here are dressed modestly – skirts or dresses, long sweaters, jeans or pants, covered by a long winter coat. Whether they wear a headscarf or not, it’s rare you see skin beyond hands and face – and some cover that as well. My friend and I don’t wear a headscarf, as we’re not Muslim, but we do dress as modestly as we can, which includes a scarf around our necks (considered particularly erotic here, hence the need to cover up). It’s not that hard to do, especially in winter when it’s a lovely 12-19 degrees C. Yet we see female tourists in shorts and t-shirts. Apparently they skipped the ‘how to dress while you’re in Jordan’ chapter of the guidebook.

• while the streets are male-dominated (women congregate in the home, although you see plenty of women on the streets running errands), we’re never made to feel unwelcome or uncomfortable – whether alone or chaperoned by our boyfriends. Sure, people look, might even stare, but that has more to do with our exoticness than anything else. One time, standing outside the local supermarket, waiting for our men, some teenage boys asked if they could take our picture, then showed it to us for our approval. Absolutely adorable, as are the cheerful “hello”s kids here give you wherever you go.

• I totally missed my chance to own a dome-shaped alarm clock that sounds the call to prayer that you hear so often here. Apparently you can buy them in Amman in the ever-present souvenir shops.

More to come when I get back home, complete with photos. Lots of photos.

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