Jordan has been full of unexpected surprises. There are undoubtedly a lot of things that I’ll miss about this fascinating country.
From the way the locals would greet me with Sabah Al-Khair as I venture out on my sightseeing early in the morning, to the soothing sound of the call to prayer that became my daily alarm clock.
I’ve learnt to appreciate the cool breeze that blew early in the morning, and the stillness that it brought to the city. And the immense relieve I felt as the evening breeze wiped off beads of sweat from my forehead.
I’ll miss being mistaken for an Arab or Palestinian by everyone I encountered along the way, and the locals talking to me in Arabic. The way they would react with a surprised look on their face when I tell them that I’m not Middle Eastern. I am, however, guilty of milking my “Arabic” look to get bargains.
I’ll miss saying Laa Shukran to the many persistent Bedouin touts in Petra, who undeniably made me laugh with their clever sales tactics – from “air-conditioned taxi” to “Ferrari” as they tried to sell a donkey/horse/camel ride. Or, telling me that a particular hike was a 3 hour walk when in reality it only took about an hour. Really, no donkeys needed.
I’ll miss the conversations I had with the Bedouin women selling things along my hikes in Petra. They offered me tea with the hope that I would buy something, but I stayed for the conversation and paid for the tea (because nothing in Jordan is for free – not even when they say it’s “free” tea).
But, like every country, there are some things that I will definitely not miss about Jordan. I won’t miss being stared at by men, no matter how much I covered up. I did wonder how it would be like if I wore a hijab.
I won’t miss thinking a million times in the morning if my dress/tee/trousers were too short/too revealing/not baggy enough. I won’t miss having to wrap a shawl around me in the sweltering heat, just so men would stop staring.
I won’t miss the restrictions placed on women in this part of the world.
I won’t miss questions from men asking if I had a “special friend”, which took me a while to figure out what they meant.
I won’t miss the way it is deemed inappropriate for women to laugh in public or to shake hands with a man (both of which are considered flirtatious). I won’t miss being told that my eyes aren’t Indonesian-looking (whatever that’s supposed to mean).
In true Jordanian spirit, I’ll say Yalla and always cherish all the adventures. Shukraan Jordan!