Jordanian Delight

21 Aug

On a bus heading going to see the “first” map of the holy land.  Everything is a “first” around here.  The bus driver is all over the road.  We bump, we sway.  We feel sick.

Today is a rough day – we are all spent – physically.  The traveling group of Australians, Brits, Americans, East Germans and New Zealand-ers are hung-over from the heat and hiking around  one of the Seven Wonders of the World – Petra, Jordan.  FYI: Indiana Jones and Terminator II were filmed in Petra for those of the more sophisticated set.

I’m operating in a fog trying to remember these last few days.  Ok.  Bear with me here. After camel trekking and desert dining in Wadi Rum, we heading North or South to Petra.  Our first afternoon in Petra, Natalie – my new East German  living in Dublin BFFer – and I cruised around the booming Muslim metropolis in search of food. That’s what good Germans and Americans do — consume food & drink. Yes, Cleopatra restaurant called our name.  We asked to be seated outside for the delightfully parched ambiance.  They reminded us it was prime-time Ramadan.  No food outside.

Quick not to loose a $, they ushered indoors, and propped us in a corner, behind a curtain.  No matter.  If they had anything edible, they could put us in a cave at this point. Of course East German girl and American girl inhaled  – white beans, white rice, random meats – possibly camel, veggies, pita, soups – the works.  A cold beer would go nice with the moistureless dust.

Damn, it’s that Ramadan thing again.  Sad to say, but we were itching for Israel at this point.  There’s beer in Israel – year round.  We kept our mouths shut.  You don’t say the “I” word in Jordan.

Moments later, Natalie whip out a cig.  They reminded us the third time – Ramadan.  I felt like the character in Scrooge where the Angel of Death was trying to show us our sins until we finally “get it.” We got it.  We settled for the legal drug, caffeine and polished off our meal with some Diet Pepsis. Coca-Cola is seen as “too” American.  Whatever…

Earlier in the week, Natalie had hiked Mount Sinai in Egypt in her Birkenstock sandals.  Not a good move.  Her precious feet welcomed a family of open sores.  For her to”do” Petra, finding closed-toe tennis shoes was a must.

That night, we ventured out after the last Mosque music-call summoning folks to prayer.   As we sauntered down the hill of kitty litter, I noticed shoes – mounds of them – organized on racks. 

“Look Natalie!  A shoe sale! I’m sure you can find something in your size over there.”

She looked at me like I was smokin’ crack.  “Have you gone mad?  That’s a Mosque, not a bloody shoe mart.” My word.  It was the shoes, not the little butts raised to the ceiling, that caught my eye.  Natalie did score some black and white pleather SkyWalker sporties at a Muslim men’s shop.  They don’t carry large sizes in women’s…. Talk about discrimination.  NO BGs (Big Girls)  in Jordan.  Julia?  Kate?

Before going into Petra stories, let me tell you something about this Jordan.  She’s a dusty, barren, parched country with little resources, little water and little crime, yet reeks with respect and royalty.  You get a sense she is managed via a benevolent king instead of a dick-weed dictator.

Sandstone buildings rise up in what appears to be miles and miles of untouched kitty litter.  I mean, this place put the D in dusty.  There appears to be distinct classes – the haves and the haves not – which are based on locale and religion.  Christians have been fleeing the country for years – probably just thirsty – so the majority of population is Muslim.  She houses hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

 

 

And, thousands and thousands of Iraqis, who landed here during the war.  Both have formally set up shop.  And, from the “drive-by” it appears the Iraqis are fairing much better than their Palestinian brothers.  This is based on observation alone.  Oh, our Jordanian tour guide did say that everyone in Jordan lives in harmony and peace.  I did not want to dispute it but from my other drive-by – did TWO drive-bys people – I would aruge the statement was issued from Cinderella’s castle by Mickey Mouse himself.

I would like to relay an interesting conversation with our Jordanian tour guide, whose family fled from Chechnya in the 1920s, about his take on Lebanon, Jordan and the Middle East in general.  He agreed that the Lebanese do have the BEST cuisine but are completely off their rockers.  He sees Lebanon as a ticking time bomb. (You will later find out that every country is a ticking time bomb…)  So, his solution to Lebanon’s issues, which we still have not defined, included booting this democracy notion and allowing Syria to rule the country. I said, “didn’t they kick Syria to the curve a few years ago, why would they want them back?” I really, really willed my eyes not to bug out of my face as I tried to listen.

From where he sits, he sees having one ruler in charge is better than the three stooges – Lebanese Christians, Sunnis and Shiites.  Corruption, in his view, would cease and civility would emerge.  The Lebanese, he asserts, would know what they are getting with a Syrian dictator, unlike the nuts running the place now.  Has a point, but….

It flies in the face in what we – Americans – believe in.  Freedom to vote in or boot out political leaders based on performance, beliefs, sleeping arrangement or hair color.  Our system is far from perfect but at least we have repercussions for political dudes and dudettes not up to snuff.  With a king or dictator, you don’t have the freedom to boot. Instead, their friends are the ones with the freedom to boot you from your home – let’s sum it up by saying boot you from life – possibly in 30 mins or less.

But, to my tour guide’s credit his reasoning was based on two things –  at least you know what you are getting and years ago – like 500 – all of the Arabia (Middle East) was under one rule and seemed to be “just fine.”  It wasn’t until after a couple of world wars that the Brits & French – with input from yours truly – sliced up the region like a 2-year old trying to slice up a meringue pie.  So, I can empathize and see where he is coming from, though I completely disagree.

One other little “ahh haa” moment came when our Jordanian guide made a comment about how we have to pay to get into one of the orthodox Churches to see the “first” map of the holy land drafted by our fellow Bad-Ass Byzantines.  Of course, I could not let that slip by.  I asked innocently, “How do Mosque’s keep their doors open?”  His response,

the government funds all the mosques in the country.  We – the people – are not forced to give them any money.  If we give anything, we will pool our money together and buy a flat screen TV for the Mosque or give food to a family who is struggling.  But, it is the government who pays the salaries, funds Mosque expansions, installs Temples of Relief (bathrooms)….”

Ahhh.. That makes sense.  So, I followed up, “So, Christian churches are on their own? They need to find resources to keep their doors open, right?” Response, “Yes.  Their people give money and they charge money for admission to see holy artifacts.”

I wanted to respond – Damn Straight baby.  State does not tell us what to do…. Don’t worry Dad, I kept my mouth shut and smiled like a lady.

That being said, it makes sense since religion and government are one in the same, unlike the US.  Can you imagine our tax dollars going to fund churches, mosques, synagogues, Scientology centers, temples, meditation retreats…the works?  Are we talking about unionizing priests? Long lines at the confessions?  Closed on govt holidays?  Solve issues by increasing taxes to spend more?  Hmmmmmmmmmmm

Just something to think about.  The more I travel, the more I love my country.  Thank you God!  God Bless America!

One Response to “Jordanian Delight”

  1. Lovie 27/12/2016 at 2:20 am #

    Mike, I heard you speak at Unity of Palo Alto some time ago, and have been on your list since then. Yours is one of the few email issues I do read regularly (not even Deepak Ch8;)a&#o217psr. Congrats to Sylvie M. for her intentions for this year. I, too, wish to finally realize my dream of writing and public speaking. Thanks, Mike, for your sharing and encouragement.

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