Daily Life in Jordan with Kids
It’s 2 am local time; no surprise the boys are awake and want to get up. It’s 4pm in Vancouver and their bodies are protesting the time change. Somehow we all slept almost 8 hours last night, perhaps travel weary from our almost 24 hours in transit from Vancouver.
We have rented an apartment for a month in Amman, Jordan’s capital city. You can read about all of the great reasons to visit the city here.
It is much like a flat you would find in London. A studio, about 300 square feet if I had to guess. We are equipped with a microwave, a fridge and stove and a brand new washing machine ( I think the washing machine is my favourite amenity with two little boys) and a hot water tank above the sink in the bathroom. Those of you who have never ventured from North America may find a small tank of hot water (with a switch) in the bathroom an odd set up, as most of us have a large tank hidden away in the basement or utility room, with 80 litres (or is it 80 gallons, I have no clue) or so of hot water waiting for us to use it at our leisure. As for the stove, in a country full of amazing hummus, falafel and shawarma for just $1 USD or $2, I doubt the stove will get any use.
Thanks to Awad, our tour guide from last October, my cupboards have been stocked with Nescafé, milk and sugar ( it’s either that or Turkish coffee around here, and while the cardamom flavoured, muddy coffee is good, it is not going to become my go-to overnight). I have an assortment of tea, but making it at home, when it is available pretty much everywhere, with fresh mint or other flavours, my plain tea bag and hot water will not do it justice.
We have two grocery stores within a block, as well as last night’s shawarma in the fridge and this morning’s hummus, fava beans and the most amazing bready, chick pea and toasted nut dish that the name escapes me ( ok, I don’t have a clue what it was called to begin with, but if my stomach was not churning from the Jetlag, and the leftover symptoms of a stomach bug – I’ll spare you the details, but it was a pretty rough ride from YVR to LHR thanks to my kids passing on their germs from earlier in the week! I would have eaten the whole thing at the restaurant )
The kids are stocked with apples, peanut butter, bread, cereal and crackers. Staples for a quick snack as their bodies are probably feeling as upside down as mine.
Back to the apartment in Amman, I have no idea what the address is, but I know there are 4 if not 5 cell phone shops above us ( yes above us, we are on floor -1, I had no idea people ever lived on floors starting with a minus sign, but you would never know from the hallway, as the side of the building is dug down a few stories on one side, so besides not having a window in our apartment, it doesn’t feel like underground. We also have a pizza restaurant, a smoothie and sandwich shop and a dry cleaner upstairs! I will attempt to attach a photo so you can see what it looks like from the outside, but I’m using my phone as a hotspot; wifi is the one thing missing at our place.
It’s still sweater weather in Amman and I saw a few drops of rain today. But warmer than the snow we left in Vancouver. The weather is around 15C during the day, but there is still a cool winter breeze when the sun does not shine.
The city is a jumble of hills ( called jebels) , with the traffic circles being the basis from where you live or go. I thought there were only 5, by since we live at the 7th circle, I have now found out that there are 8. Downtown is east of us, past the 1st circle and Jebel Amman; we find ourselves in the urban west end of town, with plenty of modern shopping options, places to eat and socialize.
Amman is a whitewashed concrete jungle of low rise buildings, but beautiful in its own way. It is made up of over 20 jebels (hills) with the Citadel being one of them. It will never earn the cleanest city award, (I have already accumulated 20 or so plastic bags, they just seem to keep multiplying!) But it’s vibrance is evident from the moment you enter the city.
Jordanians, (and so far I mainly mean men, because I see 10-1 ratio of men to woman in the stores above our flat, and have only really encountered women’s smiling faces while walking the streets,) definitely emit a “joie de vivre” and it radiates through the city. Whether it be the restaurants, listening to their conversations outside while having coffee or their instant interest in the kids, it’s a friendly vibe that I have a hard time explaining. From the man in the row behind us who offered the boys candy on the plane before we left Heathrow Airport, to the men having coffee in the parking lot offering the kids cookies, to the smoothie shop offering the boys a taste of what was currently in the blender and then later offering strawberries, the kids get a type of attention that is not evident in other cultures and places in the world. Never on the street in Canada would someone offer my kids a candy, perhaps the odd chance that another child or parent shares a snack at the playground, but if you are from North America, you know how it is. The mentality of “not taking candy from strangers” is non-existent here. Strangers graciousness is part of what I love about Jordan.
This is a great post to read on preparing your children deal with different cultural expectations!
Earlier today, we walked about 5 blocks to the big KFC you see as you enter town from the airport, so the kids could play in the big play place and burn off some energy. Tomorrow we will wander the other direction and see what we can find. The lack of wifi and Netflix is making this for a long night, I gave up and turned the lights on for the kids at 4am. But living in a concrete building is something they need to get used to and although they keep asking to get up, they do not want to leave the warm blankets to play lego on the cold tile floor.
People still talk to each other in Jordan. Face to face. Not text to text, or snap to snap. That is not to say that those things do not exist, everyone here has a cell phone ( hence the 4 shops in my building alone ), but they actually talk on it, headphone dangling from one ear as they walk down the street. People outside having coffee, or kids at a restaurant after school actually talk to each other. They don’t spend their time together in a virtual world. Don’t get me wrong, I am as much a facebook fan as any, and rarely do I call my friends to make plans. But when you are somewhere where you don’t see it, you really realize how ingrained it has become in our culture over the last few years.
I discovered this morning that who ever tiled the bathroom was no engineer. The floor slopes ever-so-slightly away from the shower and the drain, and since there is no shower base, just a tiled floor and a glass door, the floor is a lake of water and anything that may have been touching the floor (such as your only towel) will be wet.
Now I understand why there is a broom handle style squeegee with a cloth propped up beside the toilet. Thanks to the tile lip at the bathroom door that my big toe discovered last night, the water did not escape the bathroom and I was able to direct it back to the drain with only a bit of effort.
We wandered to C-Town grocery store today. I was on the hunt for shampoo. We entered through a metal detector and despite it beeping I did not appear to be any threat to the security guard on duty. After wandering the aisles, we left shampoo-less, but with a bar of soap (0.2 JD ~ USD$0.30) , a small block of cheddar cheese (2.0 JD ~USD$2.60), 6 pack of drinkable yogourt (at least that is what I think it is) (1.35JD ~USD$1.60), 2 small cans of orange mirinda (which is Orange Fanta equivalent) (0.35JD each ~USD$0.45), two oranges (0.26JD ~USD0.30), and 5 USA Apples (JD2.00 ~USD2.80)
The fruit and veggies are sold by weight and instead of the cashier having a scale, there is a person in the produce department who will weigh and price it with a scannable bar code. Something similar to what you would see in a North American deli department. Im glad I saw someone have their banana’s weighed and priced, or I would have ended up at the cashier price-tagless.
Blogging is all about creating a personal brand, something that I look at and agree with, but most of my upcoming posts will be a journal style day to day experience to show you what daily life is for us in Jordan, as we adjust to life here for a month. The posts about Things to do in Amman, Visiting Petra and all of the things to do in Jordan as a tourist will come, but for now, it is much easier to tell you about what we are doing as we do it and load it from my cell phone hot spot on to the blog!
Here are some more of our Jordan Journal Entries:
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