This is the story of Iran, a country we once expected to visit last, as a final bow wrapped around a journey that tells the story of making human connections around the world. It's also an explanation of why we're traveling to Iran this Friday.
OK, great photos and stories from Jordan but what exactly was your itinerary? Where did you go, stay, eat? We've been answering a bunch of “I'm thinking of going to Jordan” emails and need a place to put all of our answers.
So here it is: the details of where we stayed, where we ate, what we saw and experienced. The whole scoop for one final go-round.
If you emerge from a visit to Jordan and you haven’t had enough to eat, you’ve clearly done something wrong. Or in the words of an American friend of Jordanian heritage, “If you don’t leave Jordan heavier, we haven’t done our job.”
Whereas we sometimes feel like we know the Romans and Greeks when we visit the ruined cities they left behind, the Nabataeans, the mysterious ancient civilization behind Petra, are people we need to meet.
Bedouins. Before our visit to Jordan, the term conjured an image of mysterious desert-bound, tunic-wearing nomads.
While in Jordan, we met our share of Bedouins — some camel collectors and shepherds, others guides and businessmen. Upwards of 40% of the Jordanian population is of Bedouin heritage. As a result, Jordanian hospitality, wisdom and culture are all very much a product of their Bedouin roots.
As our Bedouin hosts shared some of their protocols, their wisdom, and their clever ways of looking at the world, we took note. Here's what we learned.
On occasion, we are fortunate enough to have an experience or conversation that sends chills for its human quality. Our time with Zikra Initiative and the women of Ghor al Mazra’a in Jordan was one such experience.
From the moment I passed into the courtyard, Um Atallah took control and led me to a seat on the ground near her. Two other women swapped their attention between their work and us, offering encouraging smiles. These were the women of Ghor al Mazra’a near Jordan's Dead Sea. And for a few hours, they shared a bit of their lives with us.
In Jordan, I spent a lot of time with men. Not only did my immediate company consist of men (our driver and host were both men and I had Dan by my side), but many of our in-home social and cultural experiences were dominated by them, too. Tea and coffee in Bedouin tents was served by and among men, dinners in homes — outside of some interactions with the women of the house – were largely a male affair.
Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy spending time with men and learning about their world, but I also look forward to sharing time with women so that I may get a glimpse into their lives and appreciate their work.
And so I did in Jordan. And for me, three stories stood out. The women I met and their pride as individuals, as mothers, and as breadwinners left an impression on me.
For the last several days we’ve been making our way around Jordan – from the capital of Amman to the edges of the Rift Valley, from the north, now to the south. Although we still have much more to do and see, we thought we'd take a breath and share some of our first impressions of Jordan — from the cultural, to the human, to the culinary.
Petra, Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea. Jordan.
In a twist of schedules, we’re headed there in just over a week to experience it all for ourselves.