We arrived in Amman, Jordan, at the ungodly hour of 5 am. We meandered around the airport to find out how early we can check in for our 4:30 am departing flight (hoping to sleep at the airport, in the business class lounge, rather than paying for a hotel room in an expensive city where we need to check out at 2 am). As we made our way to the taxi stand, we ran into one of Eric’s seatmates from our flight into Amman. He was one of the first of many ridiculously nice people in Amman.
Our First Introduction to the People in Amman
I had just remarked while in Istanbul airport that it is amazing how abrupt and curt my first interactions have been at Middle Eastern airports, including arriving in Doha and again with the security guy in Istanbul. Then, we meet Ahmed. He questioned why we’re wandering around the airport, asking if we needed help. He was a really nice guy. Could the people in Amman be these nice?
Ahmed tried answering our question about checking in early and offered some advice for our coming days. When we explained our dilemma about our last night, he gave us his card and offered to meet us for a drink to kill time before our flight, made a few recommendations for things to eat, and sent us on our way. A nice guy. Could this be Jordan? Could people be this nice here?
Then, our cab driver was smoking during the start of our ride, out the window, but still. I rolled down my window for some air and he asked if I had a problem with the cigarette, and threw it away. He was a gruff sort of guy, so I was surprised at both the fact he would smoke in the cab, and the fact that he offered to stop. There was little interaction between us the rest of the half-hour ride into Amman. But, at least I did not have to breathe in the smoke.[box]
Jordan is the “Welcome Country” – Learn more Interesting Facts About Jordan Here[/box]
The People in Amman Are Really Just Nice
When searching for a restaurant for our first meal in Amman, we took a recommendation from the friendly concierge at the Marriott Amman, for a local dish called mansaf, a plate of lamb, rice, almonds, bread, and yogurt sauce. We walked across a busy traffic circle, jaywalking just like we learned back in Jersey and perfected in Vietnam.
We were not 100% sure where we were going, so we asked a group of people on a street corner if they spoke English. They pointed us in the right direction and one of them offered to walk us there. It was only a block away, but we are often hesitant about random acts of kindness when we are in new countries, perhaps conditioned to be skeptical because of the number of times we have been scammed, or ripped off. This guy just wanted to help and chat in English. He went to high school in Michigan back in the 70s. We said thank you and goodbye and walked into Ajyad Restaurant.
The menu was entirely in Arabic, but the concierge had written the name of the dish in Arabic just in case. Our server not only spoke English, but gave us what we wanted, didn’t overcharge us, or order something for us that was outrageously big or too expensive (Eric asked how much each dish cost before they served it). The total for two large dishes of mansaf lamb and two glasses of water was 11.60 Jordanian dollars, or about $15. Not bad. Here I was waiting for a scam and instead the people in Amman were friendly, imagine that!
After our mansaf, we walked to a local coffee stand located on the side of the street. We ordered two local, Jordanian coffees, which we assumed would be similar to some of the Turkish-style coffees we have had.
Cooked with cardamom over an open flame, the coffee was served thick and sweet. The coffee guy charged us what I assumed was the normal, non-tourist price of 1 JD for two cups, about $.75 a cup. He asked if we wanted it sweet or not sweet, and even let me take his picture, with a big ‘ol smile. We did not feel harassed or scammed. It was an entirely pleasant experience.
We sat in the sun for a few moments, sipping our sweet, thick coffee, before making our way back to the Marriott. We jaywalked a few more times, imitating a life-like frogger, walking in front of cars and hoping they would stop. During our cross at the last busy intersection, we were waiting for a break in traffic, or minimally a slow down. A car actually stopped the traffic for us, and waved us across the street. I mean, come on, could the Jordanian people actually be this nice? This welcoming to foreigners?
Knowing our luck, we assumed something would go wrong, and go wrong soon. That is just how stuff goes for us. But, for that brief period of time, we just enjoyed feeling welcome in a new country.[box]
Heading to Amman?
What to do in Amman: Eat tasty Jordanian sweets!
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together they have traveled to over 70 countries.