Day 2: Madaba / Amman Jordan
I wake up for the last time at 3am and decide to stop trying to fall back asleep and give in to the day starting. Since I missed all of yesterday to explore Madaba, I commit to seeing the sunrise and asking the front desk to hold my bags past the 11am checkout so I can maximize my time here till heading to Amman for two more nights on my own. After that I will be staying with the guy I met in Muscat, Oman a year and a half ago and two or three of his friends as we drive all over Jordan.
It is overcast and the sunrise is underwhelming mostly because it is invisible behind all the clouds. In the three hours I’ve been awake I’ve already heard two calls to prayer; I recorded 1 minute of the first one. There is nothing that compares to the sound of the calls echoing through buildings and streets, the city quiet and still in this time before the sun.
I roam around outside after fighting with the hotel entrance which is locked. One of the employees comes over to let me out. Oh yeah, I had to go through a metal detector to get to the door. I see a cat prowling around outside a dumpster. He doesn’t come when I call and I don’t get to pet him.
It starts raining enough that I decide to go back to the hotel to take some pics of my stuff, post two Instagram stories (@graphicpaint) and write. I try to turn on the tv for news in Arabic and discover the tv won’t turn on because the plug prong doesn’t work with any of the room outlets. It is mounted and looks very official but is entirely useless.
I finish eating breakfast and wait for my photos to finish backing up. My next stop is someplace that doesn’t exist according to Google Maps but I have read it has amazing fresh hummus and falafel.
The hummus / falafel place is out of falafel but the hummus is so fucking good it doesn't matter. I share the larger of the two tables with some older Arabic men who nod hello and say welcome. The hummus is served with a giant piece of pita with a spiral of perforation marks that I assume are to aid the ripping apart process. It's placed on top of a piece of paper instead of a plate and is accompanied by a small dish of jalapenos, a small peeled onion and several chunks of tomato. A few minutes later a plastic jar cap with a spicy herb and oil mix is placed on the table as well. The hummus, my God the hummus - it's creamy and drizzled all over with the most wonderful olive oil and a smattering of whole chickpeas. I also get a hot tea with a bit of sugar and the whole meal is perfect. I spend about 40 minutes eating everything and I am the only female patron. Before I leave I notice the man I read about, Abu Yousef, behind the counter and still making the hummus himself. He must be almost 90 now as the article I read was several years old. The whole meal cost less than 2 JOD (about $2.50).
Walking back to my old hotel I impress myself by only needing to check my location a couple times to make sure I'm going in the right direction. I stop in a bakery I noticed on the way to hummus and get three things. A few steps later I sit on the step of a building to give everything a taste. One item is mostly a melted cheese that is not as sweet as I was expecting given it was doused in honey. The next was a roll of phyllo strings? that wasn't very sweet and didn't have much flavor. The last bit was a tiny phyllo roll with some nut mix inside that was awesome and tasted surprisingly of peanuts - not the nut I was expecting; it was bite-sized and I ate it before taking a picture of the plate.
Back at the hotel I gather my bags and wait for my Uber. It's a 50-minute drive to my hotel in Amman and the trip costs 8.8JOD (about $12.00). I learn from the driver, Osama, that the rows of trees I've seen everywhere are olive trees. Every Jordanian resident with land seems to own their own personal crop which is pretty cool and I am jealous. We don't pass any fields with the strange grass tufts so the mystery remains.
I pass out again for another nap turned full night of sleep.