Amman – First Impressions

Since I moved to Jordan four years ago, I learned that many people in Germany hardly have an idea where it is or how Jordanians live. They might now that a majority here is muslim and from that get a lot of wrong ideas about how uncomfortable it would be to live here. I have stayed in more remote corners of the world, so, for me, Amman is rather modern – sometimes more than I like – and easygoing.

A visitor’s first sight would be the all-new airport-terminal. The old one was not that bad, I quite liked it for the short ways. The new one, opened only this year in march, is spacious, lots of glass instead of walls to give you a good view of the aircraft around – but arriving, I had to walk for what seemed miles, and I always carry too much luggage. My good luck that more often than not someone has a hand free to help an elderly lady.

People are polite, in general. Changing money, paying 20 JD for the entry visa, going to the immigration counter can be done without being pushed around. The employees are thorough, but not slow, and I usually get a friendly “welcome back” when I arrive and they check my residency card. Last time was 2 am – and the young man still managed a smile.

The airport is south of the city. The highway is wide, but in daytime still hardly can hold the traffic. In the night, though, it is an eerie feeling of driving on the yellow lighted road, blocks of housing and other buildings rising right and left of the way. Some say the city looks boring because most of the walls of the houses are covered with local sandstone, so the general colour is a creamy white. But among the greens provided by palms, olive trees, oleander and others I like it quite well and together with the sun that shines most days and the intensive blue sky it is a place where you can forget your depression.

The closer you come to the city, the more different lights appear. Amman, if you don’t consider the arabic script on signs and advertisements, does not look so much oriental in the night. But still, there are the green lights on the minarets of all the mosques in the city, and there are many, some  – mostly – elder men on their way wearing traditional dishdasha and headgear and here and there the smell of cardamom-scented coffee, sold from small booths close to the street. You find them easily, not only because of the wonderful aroma, but also because often as not a young boy or man stands up at the border of the lane, holding a metal tray and giving blinking signs with it to advertise their coffee.

It is what first greets me after a short absence and I enjoy it. Then home – and good night.

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