Blimey, Jordan. What a send off.
So when Andrew and I went wandering off into King Hussein Park to meet up with his friend Omar for late lunch, we weren’t exactly planning on another adventure. And that’s how the best ones always start, right?
Naturally, this particular adventure began with a pint each of sugar cane juice. You can kind of see where this is going.
What you have to understand about the King Hussein Gardens is that they’re quite expansive. It’s a five kilometre round walk. So when our taxi driver wheezed at us (in a voice not too dissimilar to James Brown put through several scratched gramophone records) that we’d arrived, and that the fabled ‘dawriat kharijia’ didn’t exist, we were left standing in the midday sun with five liters of water, a bag of kunafeh and no clue whatsoever what to do next. Andrew set off in search of some traffic lights and we failed on that count early on. I pointed him in the direction of the park – and, more importantly, shade – so that we could decide on our next course of action when two men laying out a blanket for lunch asked us to join them. We get talking and Messrs Fahed and Massoud are cheery enough for the company, and more so when there’s an entire picnic lunch on its way. Fahed offers to find out lost friend Omar and in five minutes flat he’s back with Andrew’s buddy in the back of the car. Presto.
I don’t know what I was expecting from our last social ‘do in Jordan, but it was a great deal more than either of us had bargained for. If the Arabic conversation levels slumped somewhat after classes ended, somebody cranked them straight back up to eleven today. I was interrogated on the subject of the Syrian refugee question, benefits, UK economics and the beauty of Ukrainian women. And that’s before we got into Princess Diana, early marriage, my last girlfriend and homosexuality (blimey, it felt like Uganda all over again – what can you do but stand their ground in the face of such misunderstanding?). Pretty intense, to say the least. And there’s no better way out, surely? That’s what we should be doing on our year abroad, never mind the studying; the best way to learn a language, without a shadow of a doubt, is to throw yourself right into the thick of it and chat with the locals. Rich coming from me, the one who won’t talk to anyone body (even in English) unless he really has no other choice, but it’s such an important lesson to learn, and one that I’m still learning. So maybe I’m preaching to the choir as usual.
But the best deal out of it was our taxi to the airport. Swift, slick and comfortable – and cheap. And security was a doddle. Let’s just hope our luggage joins us at the other end, hey?
It’s 3:21am. The gate is already open. We’d better go and have a look-in. I’ll let you know more when I’m done with Kiev. And no, I’m still flopping on the Russian front. With Fiddler on the Roof as my only source, this could be a very interesting adventure indeed. BB x