After unloading my bags and reading Pasha Hotel’s collage of signs plastered on the hallway’s otherwise austere walls, I hopped down four flights of stairs and into Amman’s busy streets. The blustering cold whipped through me as a reminder that despite staying within the Middle East, the weather fluctuates from place to place and the month of February is still a chilly time. Luckily, I was prepared with all the winter clothes I brought from The States in September: two sweatshirts, and nylon jacket, a long sleeve shirt, hat and mittens. Clearly I could conquer even the most chilly of days when stacking all these warmers on top of each other.
Mind over matter didn’t do its job that day and by the time I’d made it to the hilltop Roman Ruins known as The Citadel, I’d wrapped my scarf tightly around my head, and mastered the art of following the stair-filled path with my chin low to prevent the wind from whipping the scarf right off. My fingers were tucked snuggly into jacket pockets, and on the rare occasion when my hands made an appearance to the fresh air, the effort of clicking the camera shutter proved to be nearly impossible due to frozen fingertips.
I walked and gazed up at a land fit for giants of another era. Atop the Citadel lies a diverse spattering of monuments. The Roman Columns themselves seem as if someone had airlifted them sky high and gently placed them at the highest point in the land, creating an island surrounded by stone-sided apartments rather than blue seas. Amongst the columns, some of which are still standing today despite the gusts that inevitably swing by to say ‘hello’ on a regular basis, lies a hand. A hand and a knee actually. The hand of Hercules, large enough to hold your torso and shake it in the skies if the fingers were to unclench from their stoney fist. First Hercules would need to become a real man instead of the stone figure he was made into nearly 1900 years ago. Then we would have to find the rest of his body. But for now, we can imagine that these fingers and this fist, this knee… they belonged to a statue standing roughly 10 times higher than his human creators, looking down on the biblical lands of Jordan.
The thought itself was enough to send chills down my spine. I suppose the wind might have been the root of that sensation. Either way, it’s unbelievable the strength endured to not only create but to place the statue and pillars in such a way that an ancient skyscraper was born.
Past the Roman Ruins sits a mosque and more ruins in the form of streets and buildings made from large stone blocks. On this particular day, the mosque and buildings served as protectors from the cold, and I found myself stopping amongst the stones to view the Mosque and using only the sides of my pointer finger and thumb to create a claw, I awkwardly pulled on the camera’s strap. Finding success in this disabled attempt, I watched as the thick grey clouds above the mosque gently parted, allowing a sliver of sunshine to seal though in the form of a C; a crescent. Much like the crescent moon you will find atop Mosques, a symbol in a symbol-less religion.
It was beautiful and created one of the most memorable, albeit brief, moments of the trip. With a glimpse at nature’s beauty atop a city of stone, I decided to make my way back down the hill to Amman’s main street where I could find shelter from the winds and and take in a bite of Jordanian delights. I wandered into a three-table restaurant and sat down to a plate full of freshly made hummus, sweet red tomatoes, and warm bread.
During the twenty minute stay, my fingers slowly turned from a ghostly hue to one more recognizable and a service more functional – like scooping up that scrumptious hummus with an equally as scrumptious piece of pita. Many men walked by and stopped as if wanting to come in, but worried that doing so while a woman was seated inside would go against their traditions. I made a mental note to avoid such situations in the future, and also noted how many customers this tiny shop must see in a small amount of time. It was a true gem and lucky find in the streets of Amman. With a full belly, I meandered through the souk and bazaars and soon found my way back to the hotel. The concierge shared with me that in a few hours’ time, a dinner and dance session would take place in the downstairs restaurant. Tired from an early morning and still chilled from the storm that was brewing outside, I did something I rarely do while on holiday: I went up to my room, changed into pajamas, and snuggled under the blankets at 3 in the afternoon. Planning to take a quick rejuvenating nap, I went to sleep excited to be in a new country and anticipating the evening’s entertainment.
The next morning at 9am, my alarm went off. Never mind dinner. Never mind dancing. Apparently the only activity I was set to do that first night was sleep. And how great a sleep it was!