In Hauran, the Northern desert region of Jordan a few kilometers from the Syrian border there are the ruins of a great black basalt city dating from the 1st Centurary A.D. : Umm al Jimal (Arabic: ام الجمال, “Mother of Camels”) also known as Umm el Jimal or Umm idj Djimal.
I’ve seen some pretty amazing places in my life, places that have stopped me in my tracks as I stared slack jawed in amazement. Often the horribly overused word “awesome” escapes ones lips at these moments and yet there are few places that truly “inspire awe”.
Petra IS one of them.
In my travels there are certain hotels, not the opulent and comfortable but ultimately faceless ones, but the cheaper more full of character ones, that have left an indelible impression on my memory, stories can be told (some not in polite company) about them and occasionally years later I wake up from a particularly vivid dream upset to find that I’m not in the hotel room I was dreaming of.
The “Navrang” in Delhi, The “Hotel California” in Khatmandu, “Thai Thai” guesthouse in Bangkok, The “Regale Internet Inn” in Lahore and The “Z hotel” in Puri to name just a few. The scenes of some of the greatest experiences and the best friendships of my life have begun in these places and many of them will remain with me till I make it to a rocking chair on a porch somewhere to reminisce.
Well now I have a new one to add to my list of places of which I sometimes dream.
I’m speaking of “The Canary Hotel” in Al Weibdeh, Amman, Jordan.
Not content with nearly dying at The Australia vs. Jordan football game a few days before, when protests at the American made idiotic, offensive and inflamatory “Innocence Of Muslims” YouTube film erupted across the Muslim world, I thought…………
“Hey!, I’m in a Muslim country, why don’t I go down to the U.S. Embassy?”……..
The day my wife left Amman was quite an emotional one, on the one hand I was sad to see her go (a few minutes sat on the steps of the hotel fighting back the tears, even though I’d see her again after only 2 weeks) and on the other hand that exhilerating sense of being alone in an unknown foreign country where all that there was was possibility.
Of course the possibility part is great but, it’s the alone part that doesn’t always suit (I’m a pretty social guy) so I wasted no time in inviting myself to sit with the table of westerners enjoying the warm evening in the front garden of The Canary Hotel later that day.
That one small act of pushy friendliness led to friendships that lasted the rest of my time in Jordan (and hopefully for long to come) and to some pretty crazy situations.
The first of which was the Australia vs. Jordan World Cup qualifying match attended by 16,000 people at the King Abdullah International Stadium in Al Qwaismeh, Amman.
Part 2 of the Jordan blog posts – Amman-The People