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Embedded Photos: 1.Door, Salt 2.Making Pancakes, Salt 3.Coffee Roasting, Salt 4.Making Bread, Salt
Two Years & Twice Around the World...  

Jordan Flag JORDAN


February 26. AMMAN "Day Trip to Salt" We wanted to keep up the momentum and planned another day trip out of Amman.  The towns of Salt and Fuheis were less than a half hour's drive to the west of the city which would make them an easy afternoon trip and they were meant to have some nice handicrafts.  

Before catching the bus we made a visit to the Central Bank to see their Numismatic Museum and look into un-circulated bills.  It was a bit of bureaucracy to get into the museum since we had to hand over our passports, clip-on visitor's badges,Door, Salt, Jordan and be personally escorted to the museum entrance.  Not surprisingly, there was nobody else there but it was a pretty nice exhibit of money from the history of Transjordan.  They went as far back as the start of coinage and the early exchange markets.  They provided a quote from the Quran about weighing gold fairly and not cheating people that I wish I could have memorized for taxi cab drivers in Egypt!  The museum staff directed us to an upstairs off for distribution of un-circulated notes.  We were seated in an office as a man unlocked a nearby safe and proceeded to patiently show Rob the various sets of bills that he had available.  All of them were historical sets, not current circulation.  He had bills as far back as the country's first issue and the official first issue of Jordan's Central Bank.  Rob took a set of the Central Bank first issues.  It was all very informal but done with a great deal of care as the man carefully handed over each bill.  We had to visit the main cashier at the bank to get a crisp set of current bills. 

The buses for Salt left from Abdali station.  They departed frequently so we just hopped on the next available bus.  It was full sized bus and started to fill up quickly.  A woman came down the aisle collecting money and we thought she was taking money for the bus but after we handed over our change we realized she was a beggar.  The people sitting around us had a little chuckle.  They told us she was from Iraq so we just shrugged it off.  Surely she needed the money more anyway.  When the actual ticket collector came around the man sitting behind us watched us pay and then confirmed that we had been charged the correct amount.    

Salt was the only major settlement in the Transjordan area for centuries and was the regional capital under Ottoman rule. But,Making Pancakes, Salt, Jordan when the Emirate of Transjordan was established in 1921 King Abdullah chose Amman to be the capital and now Salt sits rather quietly to the northwest.  The remaining Ottoman architecture is meant to be one of the city's main attractions but we have to confess to being a bit disappointed.  The stone buildings have suffered a great deal of deterioration and some have had some unfortunate additions.  It wasn't exactly what we had expected from a city that was touted in our guidebook and in Jordan's tourist information as a highlight.  And, to add to the disappointment we found the craft school was closed.  Still, we took the opportunity to explore around and just observe normal daily life in a smaller town.  

We started our tour of the city with a visit to the small Archeological Museum. On our way there we passed a small tea house where a bunch of Palestinian men were drinking tea and playing board games.  We paused at the door to watch a minute and one man came out to give us an enthusiastic greeting.  He didn't speak much English but seemed to be struggling with a way to invite us somewhere since he kept pointing up the street.  We weren't keen to get sidetracked and couldn't quite make out what he wanted when a younger man intervened and explained to the old man that we were headed for the museum.  We took our queue and shuffled off with a "thank you".   

The museum was housed in a very well maintained Ottoman style building.  The building was one of the city's highlights and one of the attendants politely opened the few exhibit rooms so we could see their small but interesting collection. Coffee Roasting, Salt, Jordan That was really the end of the "sites" in Salt so we decided to just wander around and check out the everyday life of the city and see what we found.  We stumbled across a small market tucked up along a narrow lane.  People noticed us but didn't stop to stare.  We just got a few "Welcome to Salt" or "Welcome to Jordan" greetings.  We stopped to watch a small pancake maker turn out his hot pancakes onto a table.  They looked pretty good so we decided to buy a few out of curiosity.  He explained that they weren't sweet and were best eaten with some sugar and nuts in the middle and then fried and served with honey.  That sounded delicious but we just nibbled the warm unsweetened cakes from the bag anyway.  As we reached the end of the market street we ran into the same man who had politely rescued us at the cafe.  He made another gesture of apology and indicated that the older mad had been drinking. Rob just thanked him again.  He saw that we were eating the plain pancakes and drew us over to a sweet shop and pointed to some coconut covered cakes and said they were very good.  We took his suggestion and bought a package to take back to Amman.  

From the time we arrived we noticed young boys following us here and there.  A couple had invited us to take their photo out in front of the handicraft shop and we observed another two casually walking past again and again to see what we were doing.  It was cheap entertainment for them.  We stopped to take photos of a shop that was roasting fresh coffee which amused a few people. They must wonder what we do with coffee in our country that we find a coffee roaster so interesting!  

The sight of a baker drew us down a side street and when we asked if we could take some photos the bakers seem delighted.  They were using a wood fired oven to bake their local pita-styled bread.  It was a great smell and the bread looked really good.  But, as we were taking our photos I kept hearing a man hissing at us to get our attention. When IMaking Bread, Salt, Jordan finally acknowledged him he just pointed to Rob.  He didn't want to deal with a woman, after all.  It turned out that this man had a problem with us photographing the neighborhood bread baker.  He somehow saw this as insulting and Rob just explained that we never get this kind of bread being made fresh in our country so it was an interesting part of Jordanian culture.  The man didn't stop with his bread complaint.  He identified us as Americans and proceeded to tell us that George Bush was a baby killer and waived his arms about the war in Iraq.  Not wanting to get into a big discussion on the subject Rob just expressed his regret about the deaths in Iraq and explained that he knew people that were lost in 9/11 and all of the deaths were terrible.  The man softened a little and tried to tell us he didn't think that we were bad but wanted to keep up his rant session about George Bush.  It was starting to draw attention from passerby's who had concerned looks on their face.  We couldn't tell if they understood what was being talked about but they knew it was a tense situation and it started to make us feel uncomfortable.  The bread makers were just shrugging at us and trying to get us to come back in and take more photos but we thought it best to just move on and not let the scene evolve any further.

After the incident I felt awkwardly conspicuous and just wanted to head back to Amman.  It was a real shame because we had been enjoying our visit to Salt and had otherwise felt welcome.  We had originally planned to go on to Fuheis but without knowing whether or not their handicraft shops would be open we just opted to return to Amman directly.  

Given that 70% of Jordan's population is ethnically Palestinian it was actually a surprise that more people didn't express angry feelings about the U.S. support of Israel or the war in Iraq.  But, in fact, most people were friendly and welcoming.  As tourists we tried to respect the cultural differences and not make waves either.  If we had been longer term residents of Jordan perhaps we could have gotten to know some Jordanians well enough to discuss the issues that cause such fissures between our worlds but those are not casual conversations.  Their media portrays our military in Iraq as baby killers.  Our media showed people partying in the streets of Palestine and Cairo when 9/11 occurred.  Why do women in Jordan stage a protest of France's ban on the wearing of headscarves but nothing stirs when a brother is only sentenced to four months in jail for killing his sister because she got pregnant out of wedlock? There are many questions that I wished I could have asked and many opinions I would have like to have heard.  But, the one thing that traveling in Jordan did teach me was that these issues are not enough to prevent hospitality.  



GREECE Athens Jan 27-Feb 4

EGYPT Cairo Feb 4 Feb 5 Feb 6 Feb 7 Aswan Feb 8 Feb 9 Feb 10 Luxor Feb 11 Feb 12 Feb 13 Feb 14 Feb 15 Nuweiba Feb 16-17

JORDAN Petra Feb 18 Feb 19 Feb 20 Feb 21 Amman Feb 22 Feb 23-24 Feb 25 Feb 26 Feb 27 Feb 28 Feb 29-Mar 1 Dead Sea Mar 2 Mar 3

ISRAEL Eilat Mar 4

EGYPT Cairo Mar 5 Mar 6 Mar 7 Mar 8

GREECE Athens Mar 9 Santorini Mar 10 Mar 11 Mar 12-13 Crete Mar 14 Mar 15-16 Mar 17-21 Athens Mar 22