There’s this misconception about visiting Middle East Places these days that sometimes you cannot even justify why you’re doing. That’s happened to me when I’ve decided to go on a tour in Jordan. I’ve been listening to people telling me I was absolutely out of my mind, that I would have had so many problems I cannot even walk by myself and that I should have wore a veil to keep my “persona” safe.
I’ve left Europe with one idea in my mind: I’m going to change people’s idea and demonstrate you can travel to the Middle East, enjoy every moment and come home sound and safe.
At the arrival at the airport in Amman, late in the night, I couldn’t barely noticed anything: it was too late, my name was mispelled and I had to justify why my father decided to call me with a Russian name and when I finally arrived at the hotel I crushed into my bed.
Then, it came the morning: the sound of the muezzin before sunrise woke me up thinking I was dreaming and while the city was still sleeping I’ve indulged in my bed, lulled by the sound of some distant music I barely recognized.
Amman was waking up, the smog was beginning to wind and I was ready to explore every angle of the city with a thought in my mind: I’m going to wear a long skirt but I won’t wear a veil nor a long-sleeved shirt.
Amman has captured me since the first moment with its contrasts, a mix of cultures in just one place and a mix of attitudes you won’t expect from a place like that.
Amman pulsates with life and I’ve decided to explore, first thing first, its vital part: the market. Isn’t the market the best place to know how locals live? Isn’t the food the mirror of a place?
Sellers at the fruit and vegetable markets near the Husseini Mosque in Amman repeat the same sound over and over, day after day: it’s always the same, it’s a ritual, a way to attract people and stand out where chaos reign.
The market in Amman is the place where gestures never change, sounds never change, smell never changes and people never change. An immobile space made mobile by sellers and buyers, by tourists who are approached so often insistent but never in an offensive way. A space where you are asked to give back to the community buying local products and you can ask to taste everything you see.
During my wanderings walk, my eyes got caught by a barber shop so I’ve started snooping and the two men behind the counter kindly invited me to step inside and offered me a cup of tea while telling me the story of their family, their trip to Italy and their business. A seller has decided to make me taste the sweet chickpeas while giving me information on the production and the best way to eat them.
The smell of fresh coffee brought me into a small alley where a man was brewing the coffee with cardamom in a traditional dalleh serving it in tiny thimble-sized cups; only men were allowed to seat and drink but I couldn’t help myself and my coffee was a purely enchanting experience.
I was in Amman, drinking coffee and eating local food and no, I wasn’t wearing a veil and I wasn’t feeling scared at all. At the end of the day, life is a matter of perspective and good food.
[All photos are mine. The trip was organized in collaboration with VisitJordan].