Here we come Jordan, after first article from the series about Kazakhstan, I want to introduce you to ‘Things You didn’t Know about Jordan’.
I travelled in Jordan for a month on my own and I really enjoyed my adventures here. It is hard to say what was my favourite part of this trip, because it was a perfect trip indeed. It had everything that I loved. Desert, scuba diving, ancient architecture and amazing people.
And actually interaction with locals and observation of their daily life allowed me to learn all those facts, so here we come.
Interesting, amusing and quirky facts about Jordan.
1. Welcome Country
‘Ahlan wa sahlan! Welcome!’ – This is the greeting that will chant in your ear over and over again in this lovely country. At least hundred times each day. Everywhere from green hills of the North to the deserted South.
Jordan is one of the most welcoming places I have so far visited in the world. Jordanian people take a great pride in their hospitality. Tea and coffee is served in every possible situation to travellers and strangers. It is very common to be invited for meals and drinks by people you have just met on the street a minute before.
I have read that generally hospitality is a big part of culture in Middle East and Central Asia and every trip in this region exceed my expectations! Heard a lot of good things about Oman and Iran as well. Let’s see in the future :)
2. Everybody loves the King
in Jordan everybody loves the King. After all King is a King! And no I’m not talking about Elvis, I’m talking about Abdullah II.
He smiled at me from numerous posters, billboards and statues wherever I went. Everything seemed to be thanks to either God or the King. Actually in most cases thanks to both of them. So I couldn’t help and often caught myself on praising the King! You know what they say: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. ha ha ha
And to cut all the gossips I want to say that us sharing birthday have nothing to do with my fondness of the King! Not at all! how crazy I would have to be to kind of like everyone who has birthday on the 30th of January! Lol
3. Olive Tree Paradise
The most common tree here is the olive tree. There are olive trees everywhere!
From a famous one planted by John Paul II as a sign of peace on the Mount Nebo to ‘normal’ ones growing all over the North in Jerash and Umm Qais.
And I think there is no need to mention how delicious olives are here! That goes without saying I would assume.
4. National Flower – Black Iris
The stunning black iris is Jordan’s national flower. It is super rare and grows only in Wadi Rum and only in spring.
Even though it is quiet rare it seems like everything is called after this beautiful flower. Many hotels, restaurants, tour operators, political blogs and even music festivals!
It is official! Jordan’s new nickname in my travel stories is: ‘Black Iris Country’!
5. Admiration Issue
You should avoid excessive admiration of any item in the house. Take it as a good advice from a friend, it will help you to avoid many awkward situations.
The hosts will feel obligated to offer it to you to demonstrate his generosity (Jordanian custom) and you will have a set of beautiful glasses, you admired over a dinner to be polite (European style polite I mean), sent to your hotel after the dinner.
Yes, it happened to me. Lesson learned! Lol
And if that eve happens to you, insist on sending them back strongly.
Generally any kind of admiration shouldn’t be exaggerated. Especially when it comes to little kids. It is considered a bad omen in Jordan.
6. Rules – Customs
Like in many countries in the region, you have to be a good observant of every day life to understand what is real and what is a pure politeness and rules of customs. There are many of those in Jordan.
As I have mentioned above try not to admire things too excessively. When invited for meal or coffee, always decline few times before accepting. If you really want to decline you have to be very careful with words you choose and they way to speak in case not to offend the host! When invited to the house bring a little gift such as sweets or flowers.
Do not use left hand when eating and drinking. As a woman you should never touch a man who is not your husband and vice versa.
Most of Jordanian women cover their heads but as a visitor I was not obligated to do it.
Stand up when greetings other people. When you finish your coffee shake your cup from side to side in order to let your host know that you do not wish to drink more. Otherwise your glass will be filled again and again.
And many many others. I always try to read and learn about local customs before my visit, but good observation is a key! and the more you travel the less you will need books and guides.
7. Lawrence of Arabia
Jordan is the country of Lawrence of Arabia. This British Army office based himself mainly in Wadi Rum, an area of a spectacular rock and desert formations.
His auto – biography was named after one of the most significant rock formations in Wadi Rum – The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.
For all enthusiasts and history geeks visiting Wadi Rum will be like taking a ride in the ‘time machine’.
8. National Flag
The national flag of Jordan is very symbolic! I can already hear you saying: ‘Like all the flags Marysia!”.
The flag shows equally spaced, horizontal bands of black (the Abbassid Caliphate), white (the Ummayyad Caliphate) and green (represents the Fatimid Caliphate and Islam).
A red triangle at the hoist represents the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. In the centre of the red triangle there is a seven-point star which represents the first seven verses of the Quran.
9. No oil in Jordan?!
Jordan is the only country in the region without oil.
Ironic? Maybe! But recent history proves it is much safer not to be ‘oil rich’!
10. Petra Beauty
Jordan is a country with one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Petra. Entirely carved into the surroundings rock, it was not discovered until the 19th century.
There is no words that can properly describe beauty and uniqueness of Petra! Not even most spectacular pictures can! It is so much better live and with your own eye! So book your tickets now!