It is nearly 6 pm when I come back to Madaba after visiting Bethany Beyond Jordan. A young man from the Peace souvenir shop had offered to take me back to Amman in his car when I was having lunch there earlier on, but I ask the taxi driver to drive me to the bus station directly. I’m not sure whether his invitation was out of friendliness or hoping for something more, but either way I didn’t want to get into a car with someone I have known for 30 minutes.
The sun sets as the bus makes its way from Madaba to Amman’s North Bus station. In my fatigue, everything seems to be slowly moving through an invisible jelly – the bus, the traffic, people getting on the bus….. Half awake, half dozing off, I watch the sky turn from grey blue to jet black, and how city lights grow brighter and busier as we approach Amman.
It’s late in the evening, so the North Bus station is empty when we finally arrive. When I am about to call a taxi to take me back to the hostel, four or five men surround me. ‘Where are you going? No taxi, no taxi. Bus. Free. Come! Bus!’ They put me back in the bus I just got off.
As the bus drives away, the men ask me a few questions in broken English, give me a handful of sour tasting yellow beans (I think) to eat, and just as quickly as I was whisked onto the bus at the station, they drop me off in the middle of a busy roundabout and drive off. I have no idea where I am.
Assuming they dropped me off somewhere closer to the Amman downtown, I get a taxi from there. The driver is an old man, who finds it very amusing that I am travelling by myself without a male company. ‘Do you want to eat dinner with me? I pay for you. You like shwarma?’ On and on he keeps asking.
After quick dinner at my hostel, I take a walk to the street food shop that the Crazy Girl recommended. The small square shop is tiled everywhere, and has nothing in it apart from a stainless steel table, giving it a very cold clinical look under the bright fluorescent light. It is outside the shop that they have set up a counter to sell two things: white drink and white pudding. A kid at the counter scoop up a big ladle of the white stuff into a glass bowl, sprinkle some honey and dessicated coconut on top and hands it to me. I wanted it in a paper cup to take back to hostel, but now I’m stuck with this on the busiest street in Amman with nowhere to sit. So I just stand there and eat.
A group of teenagers stop by the shop and order a couple of bowls as well. They stand a few steps away from me and stare at me with curiosity peppered with occasional giggles. People in the car peer out the window and some even honk their horn. Another group of men appear and keeps calling out ‘Hey, China!’. None of the stares are nothing close to an unpleasant leer – just pure curiosity. Nonetheless I become intensely self conscious and the T-shirt and over-the-knee skirt I am wearing feels way too skimpy. Forget savouring the exotic Jordanian street food. I gulp down the whole lot and rush back to the familiarity of my hostel.
DAY 2: Thursday, 19 Sept 2013
April 23, 2014 at 09:45
I just read this as my friend shared it with me…It’s really sad to read that it was an unpleasant day for you…:( Jordan is like any other country with lots of pleasant and unpleasant people, things….etc… I totally understand and can imagine what you went through and how you felt, as this can happen to any Jordanian girl as well, not only to foreigners (in certain places in Jordan)…On the other hand, Jordan has many beautiful places with beautiful people who are educated, respectful and are more than willing to help…I know you were there couple of months ago, not sure if you are still there now though…but I really hope you managed to explore Jordan, and went to other places in which you got to enjoy without such kind of things…and got the chance to meet respectful kind people? There are lots of places where you can enjoy away of such stupidity! However, these things always happen in down town and cities other than Amman, and I totally understand that you as a foreigner would like to explore historical places and other cities in Jordan, and not Amman…. I hope that you just enjoy/enjoyed and take/took good care of yourself…
On all accounts, if you are still there, feel free to email me and I can ask my family or friends out there to help you and show you around sometimes…I also have a Chinese friend who is currently living in Amman…Wish I am there now, would have been my pleasure to take you around…
All the best 🙂
May 8, 2014 at 23:12
Hi there! Thank you for taking your time to read my posts! Yes it’s true that there were times I felt men were being not so respectful, but overall I have really loved travelling in Jordan. People were always so eager to help, sincere and honest. I have been to many places around the world and usually end up just sightseeing and keeping things to myself, but in Jordan I found myself spending hours hanging out with Jordanians instead of doing the usual ‘tourist’ things. I still keep in touch with some of the friends I have met there and would love to go back when I have a chance. Are you from Amman?