The first sound on our first day in the Amman apartment was the call to prayer which started at 5 am. The apartment as previously explained overlooked the market in the valley below and on the opposite side of this valley stood four Mosques, identifiable by there elevated towers highlighted in a green light. Mohammad, our Airbnb host, had told us that the four Mosques did try to synchronize their vocals but despite their best efforts each was out of sync by possibly milliseconds. This had the affect of creating this quite haunting echo which slinked away down the valley and over the horizon, then closely followed by the next line of prayer reminiscent of a Gregorian chant. It was spellbinding. Having listened for a while we turned over and went back to sleep.
We rose around 9 am, showered and dressed. I noticed the shower was very slow to drain but didn’t think much of it just assumed it was one of the quirks of the ancient drains in the ancient city. Going to the little kitchenette I started breakfast by putting a pot on the boil with the eggs that we had managed to track down on our hunt the previous evening. I went to wash the cups I had left in the sink the previous evening and not wearing my glasses I was a little confused about the black blobs inside the first mug, but I went ahead and washed it out anyway. On lifting the second mug and seeing the same discoloration I thought to put on my glasses and investigate. Inside the cups where hundreds of tiny little ants, in my shock I let out a scream which brought Róisín running. In a very speedy manner she identified the creatures and her analysis was “Oh cop on mam they are only ants”. So I did. We found the source and the attraction. The source was a tiny gap in the wall corner and the attraction was the residue of Róisín’s sugary apple drink which we had left unwashed in the sink overnight. We called Mohammad who was at the door in record time to sort the problem. Lesson learned, don’t leave exposed food or unwashed dishes in the sink if you don’t want visitors but you have to admire the diligence of these little creatures.
We decided that after breakfast we would head down to the market and take in our surroundings. So going out the side gate just off the courtyard we made our way down the tier of steps to the small roadway below. You better like hills if you want to enjoy Amman or, as I was to discover later, Uber will be your life saver. We passed a number of small shops not more than 4 meters wide and each stepped down from the last on this very pronounced incline. They were mainly service shops, a few barber shops, each beside each other. A man making hand made sandals and shoes which looked beautiful and I would have bought but for the journey we were doing and the limit on luggage space, I decided to leave it. We made our way down the hill to connect with the main street which was on level ground and heaving with people. We moved through the crowd attracting everyone’s attention as our chalky pallor made us stand out. Children stared open mouthed as we passed. I have to say it was a little unnerving to be the center of so much attention. The streets were packed with people going about their business. All kinds of shops were on this street, electrical stalls were all beside each other and all fighting for the same business. Furniture shops, bedding, tyres, car parts and all themed within a particular stretch of the road. To give an example, if I wanted to buy a mattress for a bed along this street there would be say four shops and each beside each other. I could only imagine that the haggle for a mattress must be cut throat. We walked along the street fascinated by the number and variety of shops. One stretch of the path had a number of sellers with what looked like old clothes, old shoes, old spectacles anything that had any useful attributes left in them were being sold here and nothing went to waste. As we went further down the street we passed some gun shops which to my eyes, coming from a country where even the police are not armed was a bit of a shock. The window displays didn’t carry any double barrelled shot guns that would be commonly used by farmers back home but had a full array of hand guns, assault rifles, and machine guns which fully challenged my understanding of normal.
We spotted the national museum of Jordan just across the road and decided to have a little nosey. The first challenge was to cross the street this was a lot harder than you might think. Pedestrian crossings sometimes mean safe for pedestrian to cross and other times you are taking your life in your hands. The problem is that its very, very difficult to figure out when the rules of the road apply and when they don’t. To cross the road is like being a moving target in an amusement arcade and my nerves were fried. I decided to just take the lead from the locals and run when they did and this strategy worked and we managed to get to the opposite side of the road. Museums can be boring but these are the homes of our history and our national identity and so it is for this museum. It is really well done because as you enter the museum you are directed in a particular direction which brings you around the display rooms from oldest to youngest. The directional discovery was made because we were going in the wrong direction and a guard came and directed us in the right direction. Although millennia of history is covered here one or two displays caught my attention more than others. So first there was the display of the different Bedouin dress. To the western eye they all look beautiful and exotic and until now I had no idea that each dress was particular to individual tribes much like the Aran jumpers design are particular to a family or island in the west of Ireland. The last leg of the museum brings you right up to date showing the huge strides Jordan is making in water conservation and renewable energy. Finally, there was an interactive piece which on picking up an ear piece allowed you to listen to classic Arabian poetry, I cant pretend to say I had any idea as to what was being said but there was pace, debt, drama, and character to the voice. It would put you in mind of our dear old president Michael D. Higgins reciting some ancient Gaelic piece of literature with heavy dulcet tones, again, no clue as to what’s being said but I know its deep.
We finished at the museum and made out way back to the apartment. Oh my God! The steps nearly killed me, word to the wise, when on steps having left the streets below there is no chance of hailing a passing taxi, that option was left on the street far below. Huffed my way back to the apartment and swore "money no object from here on, it was taxis up the hills" I would be happy to walk back down. Planned to shower and head out again but notice the water from the morning shower had failed to drain so texted Mohammad again to let him know. I could almost hear him looking at my name ping on his phone and as he recognized the name his brain goes “what now!?”. Mohammad apologized for the problems and asked if we would mind moving to another one of his apartments as he would be unable to get a plumber in at this hour. Mohammad helped transfer us to another room. The new room was fabulous with a kitchen, separate living room, bedroom and big en suite. This was one hell of an upgrade from what we had booked. This was perfect for a small family or perhaps if you planned to stay for a longer time the space would be appreciated.
We hopped into a cab and off to a restaurant we had found on TripAdvisor which had fantastic reviews. As the streets were so narrow in this part of the city most were one-way. Our taxi driver explained that even though the restaurant saw a very short walking distance he would have to go the long way around in a car. I didn’t care as long as I did not have to climb that hill again. Karen and Annette’s (my fountain of youth cousins) voices were ringing in my ears going “think of the steps Olive, every daily activity is an opportunity to exercise Olive!" Okay ladies I’ll think of the steps but I am not doing them. We arrive at the restaurant all fresh and shiny and all for the equivalent of a euro. Oh my God, I may never think of steps again at these prices I can Uber everywhere! The restaurant was fabulous and was true to all its reviews. Sufras on Rainbow street was a lovely experience with great food and service.
The next morning we realized that we had left a plug adapter behind in the old studio, Roisin went to retrieve it. She met with Mohammad again and she asked if the problem with the drain had been sorted. It turned out that there was no problem with the shower drain and here’s how we made our mistake. At home the stainless steel covers about the size of small plate in the shower that covers the drain is just that, its decorative and it covers the ugly drain well, here it functions as a plug. If pushed down or stepped on, as I did, it will stop the water and acts as a plug. Luckily I didn’t drown the place and totally bemused as to why you might want to contain 2 or 3 inches of water in the shower tray. Anyhow, Mohammad was very gracious about the whole episode and took it with good humour.
Read Part Three of our Amman Adventure by clicking below!
Hi, I'm Olive and I am the writer of this blog. I am traveling the world with my 22 year old daughter, Róisín, who has just graduated University. I wanted to document this journey because it is unusual for a woman of 58 years old to go on adventure that most students do on a gap year. I will try to share my insights into this epic journey with you along the way and maybe inspire more people my age to go on these crazy adventures too.