"First Day in Amman, Round 2" by Christina Murray
As soon as we touched down at the airport, I could feel it in my bones. I had been waiting months (10 to be exact) to return to Jordan where I had previously spent an entire year. In that time, I was able to build a life with my favorite people, going to my favorite restaurants, spending time in my favorite shisha bars, and in general just living my best life. But this time was better, because I had to new people to share it with.
I came to Jordan this time with two of my best friends, Victoria and Riley. Victoria had been to Jordan once, more than a year prior for spring break where she visited most of the tourist attractions. I was so excited because I had so much still to show her that I knew would deepen her love for this beautiful country.
Riley, on the other hand, had never visited Jordan (or any other country) until we arrived at the beginning of June. I was so excited to show all of my favorite things to someone who had never seen them before and I knew would love them just as much as I do.
Riley, Victoria, and I planned to arrive to Jordan one day earlier than required by the start of our program so that we could settle in and have some more free time before the start of the program. So, after landing in Amman, we made our way to our Air Bnb in Abdali where we immediately showered and got ready to head to downtown.
Through the jet lag, Victoria and Riley managed to display enough interest and happiness to humor me in having breakfast and shopping downtown. Our first stop: Hashem. A typical tourist destination, we were surrounded by a large group of Americans but were still able to enjoy our first “family meal” where I taught Victoria and Riley how to make the perfect bread/falafel/onion/french fry/hummus bite.
Afterwards, we walked through the shops where Riley ended up buying a pair of sandals that we had to stop in the street five time to get to fit right. He wears them every day now, so it’s okay.
Later, we ended up at the Roman Amphitheatre after buying (all three types of) kanafa across the street at Al Sahel Al Akhdar (unpopular opinion - this place is better than Habeebah). But, in our excitement forgot water. A generous older man near us understood our troubles and gave us a whole bottle to share among ourselves and initially refused payment and a new bottle of water until he probably became annoyed with our insistence and finally accepted the water. In gratitude, he proceeded to offer us all a cigarette (a gesture of friendship in the Middle East) to which we politely declined and headed home.
Later that night, we had plans to meet up with one of my best friends from my previous year in Jordan. I met Shant (pronounced Shaunt) while visiting one of my friends at the Jordan Times. Since then, Shant has been a great friend and has successfully kept me from fighting rude men in the street. We went with Shant first to Books@Café on Rainbow Street where we had some great food, mediocre beer, and great laughs. Later, we headed to my favorite argeelah café on Rainbow Street, Ayam Zmaan where we stayed and laughed and smoked until the late hours of the night.
Heading back to our Air Bnb, we relished in the events of the day - the good food, company, and laughs. For Victoria and Riley, it was a great start to a month of intensive Arabic study. For me, it felt like coming home.