zondag 13 september 2015

"The Jordanian people don't know anything about the Netherlands"

Salam ailekum,

(this blogpost is not for educational purposes)

Several times in the blogs of my fellow students (and my own) I have read that 'we' doubted the choice of going to Jordan because of the safety and the fact that we did not really know what to expect. Has this view changed after our homecoming in the cold and grey Hollanda?

I prefer the Jordanian desert to the dutch beaches..
On the morning of the second day of our summer school, we had a meeting scheduled with the Deputy head of mission at the embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Amman. This was not my first time in a Dutch embassy in a foreign country but definitely the most impressive dutch embassy I had seen before. We had a nice meeting (a/c!) with the Deputy Head and she answered all our 'pressing' questions. One of my own questions was if the Jordanian people "had changed their mind about the Netherlands" since the dutch forces joined the coalition against Daesh. The answer was that, since the dutch government had not given much rumor to their presence in Jordan, most of the Jordanian people don't know much about the Netherlands other than for the projects the Dutch government organizes in Jordan (mostly related to human right, women's emancipation and peace). Fair enough. The Netherlands is still a relatively small 'player' in the chaotic game of world politics.

the church we visited in Madaba
The day after that we went to Madaba to visit the beautiful mosaic mapin the st.George's church. Madaba was a respite to Amman because of its size and complete different ethos. After our visit to the church and the beautiful mosaic map me and a few others decided to search for a place to eat in town. It was quite a long search and we had to walk far to find a restaurant. When we finally found a falafel place we decided to split up. Me and 3 other girls went for the "sandwich bar" from which we could only buy falafel. After we had our first sandwich the place got a bit crowded and more and more (older) men got in. They tried to talk to us but we could not really understand them. One of the men came up to us and asked us if we were American and "what are you doing in Jordan" in quite an aggressive tone. I did not really know what to answer and got a bit scared. What happens if tell them that we are actually dutch? Skeptical I told him from where we came and what the purpose of our visit to Jordan was and he simply just walked away. A few moments later the waiter gave us drinks that we did not even order. We decided to leave the place because we didn't feel comfortable there. Of course we had to pay for our meal first so I walked up to the counter and tried to give the money to the man behind it but he wouldn't accept it. I didn't really understand why because he kept smiling at me in a strange way and then I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was from the man who came up to us earlier and asked us from what we were doing in Jordan. For a moment I thought oh god,we're in trouble.., stuck in a strange sandwich bar in a town where we can't even ask for the direction and whole group of angry looking men in the same place.. But then the man smiled at me and told me that we don't have to worry and the sandwiches are a gift from him and the Jordanian people for us because "the dutch people and their government do a lot for the Jordanian people and this is just a small expression of the gratitude of al shaeb al-Ordoniya*" and that we need to enjoy our time in Jordan. Of course one could be a little suspicious in the given circumstances but I could see that the nice man really meant it by the look in his eyes. We thanked him kindly and left the place and we were all happy that nothing bad happened. After that we finished our meal and went back to the church (and meeting point). While trying to find the way back and walking past all the people in the streets, many people shouted "ahlaan wa sahlaan*" or "welcome to Jordan!" at us. Even the children in the streets!

who could resist this?
After we got out of the restaurant
This "tourism encounter" was probably the one that left the deepest impression on me because I was really cautious and suspicious at first while there was actually no need for it. After this I also realized how much depending the country is on tourism and how welcoming al shaeb al-Ordoniya are. I hope I have inspired some people to learn more about Jordan with my blog entries and maybe even pay a visit to Bilad al-Sham. If you find yourself having questions about my stories or anything else leave a comment on my blog or send me an email. Shokran for reading my blog!!

Salam ailekum warahmatullah wata'ala wa barakat.

Anouar Ibn el Kadi

waiting for sunset in Wadi Rum

Hollanda = The Netherlands
Daesh = ISIS
Al shaeb al-Ordoniya = The people of Jordan/ inhabitants of Jordan
Ahlaan wa sahlaan = Be welcome/ welcome
Shokran = Thank you
Bilad al-Sham = An old Arabic name for the lands around Jordan and Syria sometimes called levant

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