Day 4: More of Amman, Jordan
I finally meet my travel partners. I get up at 3:37am and Nassir messages me on WhatsApp at 4:12am but I don't immediately respond because I don't want him to think he can expect me to respond at that hour especially since it's just "Hey" - the absolute worst thing to text and the exact thing that makes me so irritated I consider ditching on meeting up with him and his friends all together. I might be a little cranky from no coffee and the slight sewage smell from the bathroom. Around 6 I message him back "Good morning" - two hours later no response and even with some coffee in my system I am still irritated. I message him again asking when we are meeting up because I still don't know. Frustrations and back and forth messages aside, he's coming to pick me up at 11.
He arrives, we hug hello, I check out, my irritation subsides considerably. The two strangers/new friends are waiting for us in Nassir's car - they are both named Muhammad but one says I can call him Eddie. We head off to the Roman theater ruins which is basically a smaller version of the colosseum in Rome. The temp is 61 F but it feels like 80 with the sun blazing full force. I congratulate myself on the foresight to bring a bandana to put over my bald head. Also I need to buy new sunscreen because the fancy schmancy one I planned to use up on this trip starts out smelling like roses and then turns into a rotting chemical meat stench that I can't bear. The smell fades after like an hour but I am not positive that this is fact and not my nose adjusting.
Sightseeing and more sightseeing - really this isn't my thing and a big part of why I prefer to travel alone. We go to the Citadel next which is more ruins, but it's also the highest point in the city and the view is pretty fucking amazing. You can turn in a full circle and the city continues beyond the horizon line in all directions, just going and going. A mountain range of buildings - each street higher than the next. The pedestrian stairs are scary steep and crumbling and I wonder how many drunk tourists fall to their death every week.
While I am underwhelmed by the "official" sights, I am loving driving through Amman with these guys. Nassir is a pro at the stick shift on these near-vertical streets and endless traffic and pedestrian crossings. Besides a handful of major streets, there are no traffic lights or signs and there are blind turns everywhere. Both drivers and pedestrians insert themselves where they want to be and everyone else just adjusts accordingly. Strangely, I see an officer writing someone a ticket but for what?? Another mystery emerges on this trip.
We get to the Airbnb and it's a typical Jordanian residence built into the Jenga wall of other buildings. The kitchen also has that slight sewage smell but I am coming to terms with this just being part of life here. There is a patio space in the back and a little balcony on the street side. The two Muhammads, Nassir and I sit down in the kitchen/living room and Muhammad 1 (not Eddie) pulls out what I assume is a camp chair bag but turns out to be a disassembled hookah. I find this hilarious that he brought this giant contraption all the way from Oman. Muhammad 1 is adorable for this and because he occasionally catches my eye and breaks out some Bollywood-style head bobbing and shoulder raising, dancing to unheard music. One by one my travel mates disappear and I realize they are napping! They are speaking my language and I lay down too, it's pretty much my bedtime anyway.
Around 8 we get up; it has been decided that we will go to "Rainbow" street, that it is a must-see, a local attraction with lots of shops and restaurants and we will figure out where to eat when we get there. Two gigantic staircases and four turns later we arrive. It is what I feared; the tourist street, but everyone else is excited. We eat on the second floor of a place I would never have chosen and it is filled with hookah smoke and foreigners. The menu is half English, half Arabic but I can tell the selections are the same. You can get Chicken Scallopini here and I am filled with dread. Nassir is in charge of the whole trip really and he orders in Arabic for us but doesn't ask us what we want. He must have ordered partly off the menu because we get delicious hummus, two salads, a random plate of french fries and a platter of grilled meats and veggies. The food is surprisingly good and I am happy but then they order a hookah and get comfy to watch a football game on one of the tvs and all of a sudden I'm back in high school waiting around in someone's bedroom for my boyfriend who's playing hours and hours of video games that I don't give a fuck about.
On the way back to the Airbnb, the Muhammads split for a nightclub and a pick up some industrial strength foreign sunscreen at a pharmacy on the way. Everywhere there are little hole-in-the-wall shops manned by one person in a space the size of a small bathroom. Sometimes there are several men in one of these little shops, all smoking and spending the hours of the night chatting away. Neither Nassir or I fall when going down the two flights of stairs on our way back and I am proud of us. Once back inside a stream of honking cars is going by - it's a wedding party driving through the neighborhood. We watch them drive by, flashing their lights and making a ruckus and then turn in. I am asleep by midnight.