Following some time in Dubai, my friend, Alé, and I stop in Jordan before returning stateside. My friend Noor meets us in Amman; for him it was about an hour cab ride from the Syrian border. This will be our last adventure together before we scatter back to our respective corners. At dawn the following day we set off for the south of the country. Swirling through the corkscrew roads of Amman is an adventure in its own as we make our way towards the bus depot. We sip on some hot chocolate. There’s a gentle nip in the air as the sun struggles to stretch over the horizon. Alé is perplexed by the young age of our barista (There must not be any 10-year-olds serving espressos in Milan, or hot chocolates for that matter). Alé’s sympathy is my empathy. I can relate to the young lad. Wherever you are you have to get that paper, whether it’s a dollar or a dinar.
Noor navigates us through the maze at the bus terminal. I’m glad one of us speaks Arabic, alhamdulilah! Before we pull off, I signal the paper boy who hops on the bus. Although I can’t read the day’s Al Rai I still make the purchase. Gotta support the kid’s hustle. I give the paper to Noor and turn my attention elsewhere. The bus loads up and makes several stops around the city before reaching the main highway. At one stop two men (who were complete strangers) adjust their seating so that the woman boarding will not have to sit next to an unfamiliar man. I take note and settle back into my seat as we jet down the highway. I’m amazed by the landscape that has been conquered by the Bedouin over the centuries. The barren wadi envelopes the bus that we ride. The contrast is blatant. This 20th century innovation moving through an ancient terrain on a road that was probably paved in the 1960s. Literally, there are layers of history around me at every turn. I shift from the window and look across the aisle. The hijabs that some of the female passengers wear are meant to symbolize modesty. With this in mind I start to blush in embarrassment. It’s not anything I have done. It’s the song that’s playing on the radio. Good thing they don’t catch the lyrics.
This was submitted by fellow drifter, Sean M., who has traveled extensively throughout Western Asia, Europe and East Africa. He is an avid reader, and is currently working to enhance his knowledge of French and Arabic.