Saturday – Sunday
Planes, trains, and automobiles. There’s nothing like using every known mode of transportation to man in one day! Despite that, every step of the journey to get to Amman has been smooth. It’s now 7:50 am eastern standard time and 2:51 pm in Amman. We still have nearly two hours before we land. We are currently fly 12,000 feet above Greece. Our group is comprised of eight staffers and we have already had a wonderful time getting to know one another. These trips are eye opening for many reasons, you learn about the country, the problems, challenges, and opportunities they face, and you are privileged to glean a small glimpse into the history and culture if different people’s.
But something else happens that does not happen on the ground back at the Capitol – you are together with your colleagues nearly every waking minute of every day for the entire week. During that time, you have an opportunity to bridge gaps, discuss views and ideas, and find out in the process that we’re really not all that different. That we all share common goals and objectives and that we all have similar stresses associated with our jobs. More importantly, we realize that we have different opinions about things and while we might not be able to bridge some of those divides, we respect one another’s views.
Our flight landed on time and except for a slight mishap with only one bag, our group made it out of the airport and to the hotel. Finally, a bit of time to clean up and get ready for our first briefing in Jordan. We had about 30 minutes to unpack, clean up and meet the bus. Everyone we have met seem very friendly, and based on the ride from the airport to the hotel, the is a middle eastern country more progressive than others I have visited.
After a quick change, we set out to the Wild Jordan Cafe, a unique project partially funded with some USAID grants that attempts to create a food outlet that offers a unique product in conjunction with communal and charity work. The facility is a partnership with the Royal society for the Conservation of Nature RSCN aimed at being a work engine aiming to generate income for the rural communities of the RSCN’s 6 reserves in Jordan; Dana, Dibeen, Shaumari, Al Azraq, Ajloun and Wadi Mujib.
From the balcony of the Wild Jordan cafe, we could see the original busy streets of the original market area of old Amman and the Citadel across the way. The Citadel sits on the highest hill in Amman, Jebel al-Qala’a (about 850m above sea level), and is the site of ancient Rabbath-Ammon. Artifacts dating from the Bronze Age show that the hill was a fortress and/or agora (open space for commerce and politics) for thousands of years.
We ended the evening at a local restaurant on Rainbow Street in downtown Amman sampling some of the best middle eastern dishes I have ever eaten. The starters were amazing, the pita-like flat bread was warm and freshly made, and the entrees were rich in flavor and history. Our embassy chaperone explained that this was true traditional Jordanian cuisine.
It was a good start to what appears to be an informative and well rounded exchange on all fronts. Stay tuned…..