After wearing the same T-shirt for over eight consecutive nights and smelling the aftermath, freshly laundered clothes become rather a commodity. And in this spectrum of commodities, people relations are just as important as maintaining a respectable appearance. Although scruffiness has grown over most of the exposed facial skin, personality has turned into an inseparable ally along this quest. Unfortunately, reactions attained from public interaction are not always the ones expected.
At first, I was a bit apprehensive about spending an average of 15 days in each country. Almost a month and a half later, I came to the conclusion that such amount of days is the essential period to cross over the tourist line and connect with the native culture. In fact, social boundaries are traversed day after day throughout this period, and personal routines fuse with the rhythm of local schedules.
Most of my labor is usually achieved from coffee shops – call it my office. Familiar faces of employees and customers eventually shape into friendships, and drink/food preferences are instantly identified through simple facial recognitions. By the time people start calling you by your name, you know you have acquired customer status. Most of these people, however, are not aware of the future; and when you become part of the routine, changes are easily discerned. Thus, the fact that I didn’t go to the “office” today perhaps will not go unnoticed. At least I find comfort in such thought.
Jordan is the perfect six-day vacation retreat. 2 days in Petra, 2 days exploring the Dead Sea and 2 days in Amman seems like the perfect itinerary. After 8 days in Amman, I must admit that unless you find an occupation there isn’t much to do/see around the area. The city is evidently in the middle of a real-state boom, with modern buildings being constructed around different parts. Yet, Amman looks uninviting. Despite a few venues and avenues, the city is mostly brown and with the recent rains and cloudy skies, the remaining colors have faded away. In any case, the warm-hearted Jordanian people add light and joy to any environment.
The city also lacks public transportation; hence, be aware of taxi drivers. I got completely ripped off twice. First time was understandable, but second time around I felt like an abused ATM machine. The taxi driver, Mohammad, who seemed very charismatic at first, took me to a couple touristic sites around the city (Roman Theater and Citadel – photos here). It was pouring rain, so he was nice enough to wait for me outside those places. In regards to communication, football talk was our only common ground, making things a lot more complex.
The entire ride lasted for about 1 hour; and during the entire course the taximeter kept running. By the time he brought me back to the hotel, it summed up to a total of 8,000 Jordanian Dollars. I felt generous and I handed him 20,000 JD – apparently, not enough. Turns out the entire tour magically came to the grand total of 50,000 JD (around 80 US Dollars). I tried arguing with him but it was all in vain. I painfully handed him my 50,000 JD bill followed by light cursing. He couldn’t understand after all.
There weren’t many accomplishments regarding the project itself (until the very last day): partially my fault, partially not. But in this game of pinpointing guilty, impartiality never prevails. Hence, I rather move on to Egypt with a clean consciousness knowing I did my best. I leave Jordan visually amazed. I arrive in Egypt a bit untrusting of people. Indeed, understanding people’s behavior is an art; an art which I shall ultimately master.
It is understandable that each person has different schedules but being honest about availability, or rather expectations, does not require too much effort. Hence, I rather trust my personality and maintain my schedule, goals and dreams within my reach. And as long as people can see through me, I am positive the reactions (and the outcome) will bridge any relationship gaps. Honesty – never too much to expect.