Just a few days shy from two full weeks here in Amman and so much has happened already! Downtown is always bustling, from indie movie screenings to rooftop hookah lounges, downtown at Rainbow Street is the place to be every Thursday night (Thursdays = Fridays here.) I actually might be participating in a poetry slam at one of the most well-known cafes on Rainbow, stay tuned! Tomorrow is my birthday and it feels weird starting off my 19th year so far away from everyone I love. I decided I am going to do an intense hike down a canyon, Wadi Mujib, and hope I don’t die. Stay tuned for that story too…
I finally have mastered the art of taxis and illegal Ubers as I navigate the city’s dusty alleys and noisy circles. The people here are kind and helpful. For the most part, they can sniff out Americans from a mile away and are eager to help however they can. I can honestly say, though, I have never experienced street harassment like this– hijabi or naked, men here will catcall anything that looks vaguely female and moves. Navigating my identity as a Muslim-American woman in the Middle East has honestly left me in an interesting in-between again: I find I am constantly having to explain myself and justify my identity over and over again:
- Yes, I speak Arabic.
- Well no, I’m not Jordanian, I am American.
- Yes, my family is Jordanian.
- No, not Jordanian-Jordanian, we are Circassian.
- Okay, Muslim? Well yeah, there’s a scarf on my head.
- Convert? No, I just told you my family is Jordanian.
- Yes, I still pray in America.
- Family name? Not your business, please leave me alone sir.
It’s infuriating. It’s mostly taxi drivers that dig the deepest, even if you ask them to stop. There are times I want to jump out of the taxi and just take my chances. It’s definitely strange still not feeling at home in the “homeland.” I’m too Arabic for America and not enough for Jordan. Oh well.
Other than that, things have finally started to settle down and normalize here. Alongside a full course-load and an internship, my lovely program here ensures we are getting our fill of being out and about. The longer I am here the more I realize how much there is to see, so much to do! It’s easy to forget that Jordan has a tangible history that dates back to Roman civilizations and biblical days. My first adventure began with the Citadel in the heart of the “Old City” in Amman. We spent the day covered in dust and exploring limestone and Roman ruins, honestly incredible. Here are some shots from the day!
I have so many of these mini-trips planned, I cannot wait. Tomorrow will be Wadi Mujib, and not a week later I am doing the “Golden Triangle” trip of Jordan: Wadi Rum, Petra, and Aqaba. I will be sure to update and document them all so hang around to check ’em out!