Well, today was definitely an interesting day. It didn’t start out great, as we woke up to find our leftover chicken was missing from the fridge, so our breakfast was lacking in protein. But we made our way first to the JETT bus office to arrange our tickets to Damascus for tomorrow, and then to Abdali bus station to catch a local bus to Jerash. It was shaping up looking like it would be an exercise in frustration, comparable to getting to Amman, because the first bus we were directed to was a full sized bus. We would have been the second and third people on this bus, and they don’t leave until they’re full. Getting to Amman, we were the 7th and 8th people on, and still waited almost 2 hours to depart. But we asked around some more, and a very nice gentleman pointed us to an actual minibus that was almost full and departed within 10 minutes.
So the real fun began. When we arrived in Jerash, the same gentleman, who we’d been talking to a bit on the bus invited us home for tea and lunch. We’ve gotten this not entirely infrequently in Jordan, and have always turned it down, but it always feels like we are being rude when we do. So we actually took a leap and agreed to go home with this guy, his name was…something doesn’t pronounce in English very well…Gazi maybe. It ended up being a great, if somewhat uncomfortable experience. Great because we met his wife and 3 kids, 2 boys and a girl, and had fun with them, and Kathy helped put together a basic lunch, involving rice wrapped in grape leaves (very good), chicken, and rice stuffed into some sort of mystery vegetable. The uncomfortable bit comes in from being treated so nicely, and having no idea of what expectations there might be for us as guests, and also figuring out how to politely leave in time to still see the roman city of Gerasa, the whole reason we came to Jerash in the first place. We managed though, and Gazi would not accept any money from us, including the taxi fare back from his house to the site gate, which he insisted on accompanying us to. This kind of hospitality is really quite foreign to us.
The Jerash historic site was pretty cool. Most of the Roman city is still there, though not in the best condition. They had a presentation of API Call ErrorRoman battle tactics, a mock gladiator fight, and a short API Call Errorchariot race in the hippodrome (admission to this was extra, but worth it), and then in the South Theatre we ran into one of the oddest things yet: API Call Errorbagpipes, tuned to the Arabic ear (as in, sounding a bit off to us). There was no explanation as to why they’d be playing bagpipes in a Roman theatre in the middle east, but there you have it. The rest of the city was fascinating to walk through. Not quite as unique as Elephantine Island, but still one of those places where you can picture what it might have looked like when it was in use. I also appreciate that in this part of the world, few enough people visit that there’s no need for ropes, and you’re allowed to climb amongst API Call Errorthe ruins.
Then it came time to come back to Amman, and we were faced with another decision as to whether to trust someone or not. We were walking along the road, heading for the Jerash bus station, when someone pulled up beside us and said Amman Abdali, and when we asked how much, said 5 dinar. Since this cut down on our hassle level, we decided to trust him as well, and got in. Again, our trust was well placed, as he took us right to Abdali station, where the bus would have anyway (also not the first time we’ve been offered a ride, but the first time we’ve accepted). Admittedly, it did cost us a bit extra (bus fare is 400fils per person), but it was fast and convenient. As the Lonely Planet indicates, it’s not uncommon for locals to offer rides to others as a means to subsidize their own trips. Indeed, he stopped en-route for another person who was essentially hitching (really the same method used to flag a taxi, but whoever stops, stops).
All in all, a very good day.
We leave tomorrow afternoon for Damascus, so we’ll let you know how that goes. (Internet may not be as readily available there, we’re not sure, so it might be a couple of days before we write again.)