During the weeks that followed Ramadan, I still felt sneaky and that I am doing something wrong when walking down the street with a bottle of water in hand during broad daylight. For some reason, I was under the impression that Jordan would ease me back into being able to eat and drink in public during the day, but I was wrong about that. The few restaurants and cafés that were open during daylight hours quickly removed the dark papers that used to cover their windows during the holy month to respect those passersby whom were fasting. Along with the removal of the papers went the cool and scandalous speakeasy feel I used to get when I would slip into a café during daylight hours. Another misconception I had about what life in Jordan would be like after Ramadan, was that Amman would merely flip its clock to be lively only during the daytime and more relaxed at night… wrong again. Instead of coming to life only at night, Amman keeps going around the clock. During the day, my neighborhood was teeming with university students heading to class and people going about their day. Almost every night you heard wedding drums – yes, drums not bells— and zagaret, which is a long, wavering, high-pitched vocal sound that resembles a howl to celebrate the jubilant occasion.
Just like how Jordan was in full swing, CET was too. The last two weekends of the semester were reserved for the highly anticipated weekend trips. The weekend directly after Ramadan ended, we had a one-day trip that took us to the north of Jordan to the cities of Jerash, Ajloun, Um Qais and Irbid.
Instead of traveling in our usual two or three smaller buses, we were all together in one giant air-conditioned bus that served as our base. The awesome CET staff made sure that during every minute of our trip we were engulfed in Arabic language and culture and that every minute was exciting. With that said, our bus transformed from just a regular coach bus to what I liked to call the “Hafila al-Heflah,” which is a formal and “punny” play on words that translates to “party bus.” We blasted dabke music and danced the traditional Levantine dance up and down the aisle of the bus as we headed to our next destination. No one was spared to serve as a wallflower, it simply did not happen. By the end of the trip everyone had been on their feet dancing at one point or another. During the short trip we had the opportunity to see different sites of ancient Roman ruins and castles that each had their own charm.
The following week we had the long trip, which took us to the south of Jordan to visit Karak, Petra and to camp in Wadi Rum for the weekend. We left early Thursday morning in our Hafila al-Heflah and danced all the way to the city of Karak where we visited a huge castle that was perched on the top of a hill, which gave stunning views of the city. Before mounting the bus, a bunch of students geared up for the rest of the trip by purchasing the traditional Jordanian “shmagah,” which certainly came in handy while in the desert and of course looked incredibly stylish. Shout out to my roommate Rineem for haggling with the shopkeeper to get the group a great price for the headwear!
After several hours, we found ourselves in Petra where we ate dinner and stayed the night in a hotel to get up first thing in the morning to explore the old city. That night a large group of students headed to a local café in Petra where the employees let us take charge of the stereo system and the AUX cable. After a long day of traveling many of us were so tired that we just sat and talked quietly. In an effort to get the group up and off their feet my friend Natalie and I picked the perfect song to get them going…. Suavemente by Elvis Crespo. Yes, it got everyone to their feet, even other people at the café who were not with our group. Yes, we were dancing salsa at a café in Petra. Yes, that is a memory I will never forget. Early the next morning we woke up tired, but ready to trek one of the beautiful seven wonders of the world.
Once we checked Petra off from our places to visit list, we headed farther south to the famous national desert conservatory called Wadi Rum. We road in 4X4 desert safari vehicles that took us on a tour throughout the beautiful, mountainous desert. We saw ancient cave drawings, climbed up giant rocks and sand mountains, and witnessed a beautiful desert sunset. Later we had delicious traditional Bedouin food and danced the night away at our desert campsite. Another common name for Wadi Rum in Arabic translates to Wadi of the Moon because of the miles of starry sky that stretch above the desert like a diamond-studded black velvet blanket. The following morning, we woke up to the surprise that CET will be taking us to ride camels throughout the desert. Riding in a caravan of 30+ camels certainly was the highlight of my trip!
Ultimately, my last few weeks spent in Jordan were truly some of my best memories of the summer. Many times I caught myself making a conscious effort to etch the beautiful sights my eyes took in along with my feelings of wonderment. I wanted my brain to remember them exactly as they were, and my heart to keep them in their perfection so I may forever look back on them and remember the once-in-a-lifetime experience I had.