The waterpipe, also called shisha is very popular in Jordan and you see people smoking it in cafes everywhere.
It's probaply the lack of alcohol that is partly due to it's popularity, but it is also a very social activity and even if i have never smokes cigarettes in my life, i do enjoy to smoke a shisha when i am in this part of the world.
The tobacco is very sweet as it is flavoured with fruit and it has less nicotine in it than an ordinary cigarette, so it's easy to smoke even for a person like me who is not used to nicotine.
The hospitality is a real and important value in Jordan. Any invitation (other one than that purely commercial) must be handled as such.
To refuse a sincere invitation is possible, but be aware that it is necessary to respect your interlocutor by putting to it right and polite forms, which could be not so natural for a Westerner.
OK. Let’s stay focused here people. Now for part 2 about the most useful, yet despicably foul animals in the world. For those keeping up, we are still on the Arabian Camel with 1 hump. That hump is were these guys store their food so to speak. They can live off their stored fat for week! When they do start to run out their hump droops to the side. I have never seen this, but I have also never been with nomads in the desert for weeks either.
So Mr. Camels can lose 40% of his body weight then just suck up 32 gallons (145 litres) of water to re-hydrate. Wow.
Then he has an inner eyelid, in addition to his outer, which protects the eyes from sandstorms while still letting in enough light to see where they are going. They have huge eyelashes on their outer eyelids to keep out sand and can even close their nostrils completely for the same purpose. The last bit? they have broad feet so they do not sink into the sand!
A few stats:
* Life span of about 50 years
* Gestation is 12 to 14 months
* Offspring are usually 1 at a time. 2 sometimes
Camels are know as the ‘Ships of the Desert’ and rightfully so. They can easily survive where other animals cannot. They are amazing strong, versatile, useful, but inherently vile and evil beasts. Just remember that they are foul tempered and will happily bite you and/or spit in your face. Just keep to the sides or rear and you will be fine. There are 2 kinds of camel – the Dromedary Camel (also known as the Arabian Camel) with 1 hump and the Bactrian Camel (or Asian Camel) with 2 humps. 90% of the world’s camels are Dromedaries and these are the ones you will find all over the Middle East.
How useful are they? They can carry 200 pounds (90 kilograms) of weight, walk 20 miles (32 kilometres) a day in the desert and go without water for over a week and without food for months! Their coats can be used for wool; you can drink their milk, eat the meat (tough!), make leather from their skin and burn their droppings for fuel. Very versatile indeed!
Good luck eating here during Ramadan. During daylight hours (starting before 6am), restaurants are shut down, and you'll be reduced to scavenging mini grocery stores or eating at tourist only places. Even if you want to respect the Muslim practice of not eating during daylight, which is a nice thing to do as a curtesy if for no other reason, you'll likely find yourself still scavenging at night for a place to eat. Because Ramadan is a family affair, families tend to eat at home after sundown. Restaurants may not open back up (again, except for the tourist ones), so getting a good meal could be tricky. I suggest carrying some snacks with you all the time in case you find yourself in need of fuel.
An Egyptian friend of mine once said, "Sometimes we think we treat foreigners better than we treat each other."
A couple of stories from my trip to Jordan.
A invitation to dinner
My driver for the week, Jihad, possibly because he was amazed at my ability to sing along to parts of the famous Lebanese pop song "The Hat is Yours" (Habbeetik) on the radio, and also know what the song title really meant ("I loved you"), insisted I come back and entertain his family with my bad Arabic. There I was force-fed some amazing home-cooked Jordanian food. While I ate, his children came out to stare at me intently, copying my words and actions and laughing (a lot).
Hazim, the bedouin and his tea.
I was accosted somewhere in the desert by a genuine Bedouin. After surprising him with my few hastily learned words of Arabic ("salam alaikoum!"), he insisted I come inside and drink tea with him. And more tea. And more tea. He spoke pretty good English, but he didn't seem to understand "no thanks", "I've had quite enough tea now, thank you", and "I've really got be going or I'll never get back to my hotel before the sun goes down."
From Lawrence of Arabia:
When Lawrence wonders why the Harith Bedouin Sherif Ali doesn't kill him for drinking from their well, after he killed his Hazimi Bedoin friend for the same crime, Sherif Ali tells him:
"You are welcome."
Local Currency of Jordan is Jordanian Dinnar or in short JOD.
Current rate (for the date of writing this tip) is:
1 JOD = 1.4 US $
1 JOD = 5.74 NIS (Israeli shekel)
If you want to exchange money you can do it both in the city of Eilat or at the Jordanian termonal. As far as i know the rate at the Jordanian side may be a bit better although if you go on a short trip and you dont take a high amount of money it doesnt really make a big difference.
You will see King Abdullah's beatific smile beaming down at you from posters all over Jordan. He gets everywhere, and on everything. You'll see King Abdullah in modern Western business suit, King Abdullah in traditional bedouin headdress, King Abdullah in local football kit, King Abdullah in army uniform with many medals of honor, King Abdullah in relaxed smart casual wear, and so on. He also seems to endorse everything Jordanian, like King Abdullah beaming at you from a giant stretched canvas of Kerak Castle.
He's highly respected in the country, and you will see pictures of him, his beautiful wife, and the rest of his family, including his deceased father, in homes and businesses all across the country, as well as on giant posters and placards in every town, village and cluster of huts in the desert. It's probably best not to say anything bad about him, not that it's illegal or anything. Jordan's a pretty free country, but you probably won't make any friends.
One day my driver, Jihad, a Muslim with a very obviously Muslim name, asked me if it was ok for him to take a detour, because his child had called in sick at school and he needed to be picked up. I said sure. The school was near Amman, out of the way in the countryside. As we approached it I felt it looked strangely familiar. As we entered the school gates I realised why: it was a Christian school.
"This is a Christian school", I said.
"I know", said Jihad, smiling.
It turns out that half the school is Muslim, and half Christian. All the kids, Christian and Muslim, were standing around wearing red hats and singing along to Jingle Bells in Arabic.
I stayed in Madaba, which has the largest Christian population in Jordan. Everyone I met, Christian and Muslim, was keen to point out that they all got along famously, and it did seem to be the case. While events elsewhere, in Israel and the rest of the Middle East, can work to drive a wedge between the two communities, they seem to want to live together as Arabs, rather than apart as Christians and Muslims.
Walking out of my door at 5am and hearing the calls to prayers from the Mosques, while opposite me was a shop selling alcohol and next door to that one selling sexy lingerie, told me that this wasn't a stereotypical Muslim country.
This dress code is what women usually wear in Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries. Although, some women don't cover their hair with a head scarf, most of them do. It is advised to dress with modesty.
It is very important to remember that men and women do not touch each other unless one is the parent or the spouse.
Some people have taken on western ways, but it is the custom that a woman not shake hands when meeting a man.
Tea is something jordanians drink all the time. And it's part of their culture. You wil be offered in many places a glass of delicious tea with mint, specially in shops. Take it, otherwise it will be taken as an unpolite gesture. Once you've finished the glass of tea, you will be offered another one. But in this case you can just say "No thanks" or rise a bit your hand showing that you don't want another glass, and they won't serve you more, and it won't be taken as unpolite. Mind that in a shop, taking a glass of tea from the owner does not mean that you must buy something. You can have the tea, look aroud the shop, and if you don't find anything of interest, just thank for the tea and walk away.
Petra is another stunning place in Jordan
and another MUST SEE.
You can rich there on horseback, or by a sort of coach.
I've taken this photo in a cavern, they say in ancient times, people live there.
When you visit in Jerash the South Theatre is a great experience to hear the music play from this Jordanian-Scottish band. They play classic musics and Jordanian ones. It is a great experience to try the wonderful amplification of the theatre!!!
It happened to be my birthday while we were in Amman. On our last evening, which was my birthday, we went out as a group of Canadians for dinner. At the end, a birthday cake showed up for me! Our waiter insisted on feeding me a bite of cake and someone else insisted on taking a picture.
I was moved to this hotel in Wadi Musa, after the hotel I booked did not have a room available. The...more
The Four Seasons Hotel in Amman is definitely fit for a king (or queen). An Arab sheikh would like...more
Wadi Rum, Jordan
Good for: Couples
More Regions in Jordan