Your Daily Catch correspondent has been given the opportunity to tour Jordan this week and I can’t be more excited. I left JFK at 10:30 Thursday night and after a 10.5 hour flight landed in the beautiful Queen Alia airport. Right away I noticed something different: there was a little smoking area near baggage claim! Something better that was different was the people.
The first person I met was an older lady named Mary. She was born in Jordan but today lives in California. She came back to visit her family and see her newest grandson. She approached me as I waited for my bags, asking me casual questions and having fun teaching me the pronunciation of several Arabic words for “please” (min fadlik) and “thank you” (shukraan) as well as “bathroom” and a couple of others that I am ashamed to say eluded my recollection after such a long flight.
She seemed almost as excited as I was that I would be visiting Jordan for the first time. As we parted she embraced me and said, “This is a trip you will not forget”
Our group collected our things and we made our way out to the front of the airport where we could get a coffee or change some money if we desired. This is not necessary since most of Jordan accepts American currency, which is worth 30 cents less than their Jordan dinar. It was then that I met a very young couple with a baby who couldn’t have been more than 9 or 10 months old.
They did not speak a work of English. They held up their camera and said something in Arabic that I couldn’t understand, but I assumed that they were asking me to take a photo of them so I nodded and said “yes” hoping that they would understand and reached out for the camera.
Apparently, they were asking if I was someone famous (or I reminded them of someone) because they handed me their baby and started taking pictures of me holding it. I had no idea what was going on, but I held the infant and grinned for the dozen or so shots they snapped. The little guy was really calm and only began to cry as they took him back. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get a photo, but they were gone before I knew it.
As our group came together and prepared to leave the airport there was a sudden commotion. Across the room drums and bagpipes began to sound and the room was filled with cheers and applause. We went to investigate and found a young man in a graduation cap on the shoulders of another man. The crowd was reaching up to him and popping confetti bombs. The people had no problem with foreigners snapping photos and shaking their hands and I was glad, because being covered in confetti is an excellent first impression! Lots of joy, in Jordan’s airport.
We made our way to the hotel we’ll be staying at for a few days as we explore the 9000-year-old city which was once and is still referred to as Philadelphia or “The city of brotherly love.” This name holds true as it is surely the friendliest city I’ve ever visited.
Our group wore name tags so we could get to know each other and as we passed through hotel security (they have a metal detector at the entrance) one of the doormen grinned at me and asked “Jack! This is your name!?!”
“Yes, it is.” I responded.
He shook my hand enthusiastically, “You are a very lucky man.”
I chuckled and thanked him, retreating to my room. I unpacked and had a hard time getting to sleep, but when I woke the sun was rising. As I looked out my window at the gorgeous view of ancient sandstone buildings I couldn’t help but think “I really, really am blessed.”
P.S. Even the stray cats here are friendly. I was sitting outside when this little lady came up and started rubbing up against my legs looking for attention. Who was I to say no?