Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Layers of Empire (and ketchup and mustard)

Today's adventure: Jabel al'Qala: the mountaintop roman ruins

The ruins are desolately beautiful. Scattered pieces of empires, piled on top of one other as tribal kingdoms gave way to Romans who gave way to Byzantines. And now the place is surrounded by a new empire – whatever they will call us in a thousand years.

In truth, this modern empire was my favorite part, just staring out at the vast expanse that is Amman. The sand colored buildings blend together like a desert. From the mountaintop the cacophony of the streets is lost in the wind and the city seems still and ancient as the giant columns which lie like bones in the dust. I can't photograph this feeling – the partial city-scapes can't show the vastness– the way Amman seems to envelope of the world.

I couldn't capture the scale, but this picture shows how oddly seamless the ancient and the modern are here.

My host brother Saif with the old roman theater in the background, and me with Amman.

I am tenuously making sense of my life here. Life in Amman avoids movement during the day at all costs. I am quite sure the daytime opening hours of Jebel al'Qala were the reason it took a week of constant begging to get me there. But night is for adventures. Saif and I usually zip (or putter, depending on the traffic) through the city at night with his friends. We get coffee here, shwarma sandwiches there, or fetch dinner from a hole in the wall hotdog place called 'Wazzup Dog,' which is spattered in graffiti, caution tape, and 'BEWARE THE DOG' signs.

I know by the time I feel really at home here I will have to leave. But, for the little time I have it, I love this life.  


  1. Thanks for posting! Awesome shots -- I especially love the 1st one. And thanks for posting a pic of your host brother. Beautiful writing, too.

    Can I make a special request for pictures of the rest of the host family, w/their apartment in the background? I would love to get a peek at "normal residential life" in Jordan.

  2. Thanks for posting, also love the first photo, great framing! Great job of setting the scene with your writing! To bad it is only 3 weeks seems like time to plan a return. How is the language learning going? Can you bring Saif back to get you through second year Aribac?

  3. I am happy to hear that you are having a good trip and taking in the local culture and places. Here, the fountain at Riverfront Park down the block has kids playing in the water daily in the high heat. However, Gracie is not interested in exploring the wetness.