After a more than comfortable flight into Amman (three seats to myself along with three pillows and blankets!) I unfortunately had a less than smooth transition into my life in Jordan. My O2 sim I was planning on using until I could find a Jordanian replacement started blocking my inbound and outbound calls, meaning I couldn’t get in contact with my landlady to direct the cab driver on the final stretch to her house. Luckily I met my friend Jasmine at the airport and so the three hour wait until we were able to contact her flew by… (N.B. check that your phone company allows you to make calls in the country you’re visiting before you leave!)
Anyway, once we were arrived at the house (praising ourselves for prearranging a room rather than waiting until we arrived to apartment-hunt) we were pleasantly surprised! Both out rooms were huge doubles and there was even a pool table in our living area. The landlady, Samia, was quick to offer us homemade cakes and tea and even drove us round the area to show us where we should shop. Unsurprisingly, everybody seemed to know who she was and constantly offerened us free samples of baklava, falafel and hummus (which was insanely good). She also showed us the correct way to cross the road: hold out your hand and hope the cars stop. I don’t think I’ll be trying this technique for a little while! It’s easy enough to wait until you see someone else cross and follow them.
Another issue to make sure you sort out before leaving abroad is banking. This became evident when Jasmine attempted to take money out at cash machine and found she had a limit of 50 JD, which makes paying the rent very difficult. It’s important to make sure the bank knows that you are travelling and also that you don’t have a withdrawal limit if you plan on taking out large sums to avoid constantly paying the ATM fee.
Although we were knackered by the evening we decided to go with our new housemates and some of their friends for dinner at a Yemeni restaurant. This was out first experience of a public bus and it was actually not as bad as I expected, although our Amman expert Sara told us this was probably because it was a cool evening rather than rush hour and it was safer as we were in a group. Nonetheless I appreciated that the driver told two men to move to the back so we could all sit together (we’re not allowed to sit next to men on a bus, or even in a taxi unless the back seats are full).
The food at ‘Bab al-Yemen’ (Door to Yemen) was incredible- though not for the vegetarian minded! Huge plates of rice topped with chicken or ‘meat’, which is usually lamb, though sometimes beef. When the bread came it was a huge shock: they were traditional Yemeni flatbreads, tasting a bit like a naan, and they were about the size of a table! As well as this, we all had bowls of salad and bottled waters. When we split the bill between the ten of us it only came to 5 JD (or about £4.25) each! We were also given helpful tips by Sara’s friends on how to survive in Jordan- such as not going downtown at night, as we are girls and likely to be subject to unwanted male attention.
Rather than catch a cab back, Sara’s friend Ahmed kindly offered to take us home. Unfortunately as there were five of us he decided rather nonchalantly to put two of us the the front passenger seat whilst driving at 100 kmph and speeding up hills. Nonetheless we arrived home in one piece and after an exhausting day I was very grateful to have a big double bed to collapse into.