Monday, December 9, 2013

Some final thoughts on a truly memorable experience

I haven't really commented about the Jordanian food too much, since I have eaten more chicken than I care to think about. However, the traditional drinks were very tasty, especially the coffee with cardamom served in small cups. We enjoyed the Bedouin coffee with hazelnuts and spices but this was not to be found in many places. The national drink is a strong tea served with fresh mint leaves that is quite delicious.

The desserts were always lovely with lots of flaky pastry, mousses and almond cakes. Our favourite dessert was not dissimilar to bread pudding but served hot with nuts and spices and an almond cream served hot. I must admit that I had seconds of this a few times.

Every kind of salad imaginable was available and I have mentioned several of these. Kebabs were popular as was mansaf, which is chunks of boiled lamb served on a bed of sticky rice with pine nuts on top. This was often served with goat's milk yoghurt on the side. Good fish was rare and of course pork is forbidden.

I have mentioned the bumpy roads and the plastic everywhere near populated areas. Fuel prices are totally regulated by the government. Jordanians will tell you that they need three things: petroleum, water and tourists. There is no petroleum in Jordan. The increase in population and people moving into the cities is creating a great strain on water supplies. There is a proposed plan for desalinization of Red Sea water with the brine being piped into the Dead Sea, which will revive the shrinking Dead Sea. Some of this water will be piped to the south of Israel; in exchange the north of Jordan will receive water from a reservoir in the north of Israel.

At the time of writing tourists are staying away from Jordan because of the situation in Syria and Egypt. I would venture to guess that our hotels in Amman and the Dead Sea were at about ten percent capacity. They were extremely quiet.

The number of working children, who do not attend school, is a problem. Many of these are refugee children from Syria, whose parents can't work. As well as some Jordanian children working this creates a huge problem for the future with almost 300,000 Syrian refugee children in Jordan. A third of these were out of school this academic year. Over time there have been a lot of Palestinian refugees in Jordan, which causes some identity issues. Our guide never referred to Israel, when pointing out places to us. It was always Palestine or occupied Palestine. According to newspaper reports 2,000 Jordanians are fighting for the rebel forces in Syria.

Any Jordanians we encountered told us that it was a safe country and to tell our friends. We certainly found it that way but we were on the tourist trail. Nevertheless visiting Jordan was an incredible experience and perhaps we will return someday.

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