I didn’t know much about the Middle East except from what I’ve heard and seen on the news. Corruption, civil unrest, patriarchy and religious authority over government and law, self-destruction, nepotism, inequality, persecution...the list goes on and on. I never imagined visiting an Arab country until now.
I enjoy travelling to different countries and continents to immerse myself in cultures and values different from my own. One of the best ways to open my mind and heart to the unknown is through travel. The Middle East is so uniquely different from home and I knew I’d have a different outlook and perspective once I experienced it for myself. Luckily my bestie, Michael shares the same passion for travel and adventure, so off to Jordan we went.
During my travels I was fortunate enough to visit many historic sights like The Citadel, Temple of Hurcules, The Roman Amphitheater and King Abdullah’s Mosque in Amman. Marvelled at one of the seven wonders of the world in Petra including The Treasury, The Royal Tombs, The Great Temple, The Monastery, High Places of Sacrifice, and The Siq. Wādī Rum is known as the valley of the moon and was jaw dropping in its beauty and vastness. I explored huge mountains of sandstone and granite by day, stargazed at night, and welcomed a new day on a camel for sunrise. Drove through the coastal city of Aqaba and admired the Red Sea. I lathered myself in mud from the Dead Sea, scrubbed it off with salt then soaked in the sea which has a total salt concentration that is 10 times higher than the ocean. Roamed around the downtown area through markets, meet many Jordanians, ate at local restaurants, walked up and down Rainbow Street and worked out my quads up and down countless staircases guided solely by a flashlight.
From the moment I arrived at Queen Alia Airport in Jordan I was treated with warmth, hospitality and never felt the least bit concerned for my well being or safety. Security is taken seriously here with check points at numerous locations, metal and x-Ray detectors when entering hotels and malls, vehicle trunk sweeps and bomb checks, but everyone went out of their way to make me feel welcome, offer tea as a warm inviting gesture and verbally welcome me to their country.
I passes by many Jordanian families out and about enjoying the sights, mothers, fathers, children, going about their everyday life. Most women wear head scarves because of their religious beliefs. I never once felt out of place because I didn’t have one on. I enjoyed watching Jordanians carry rolled up mats hurrying through the streets when they heard the call to prayer. Although I don’t speak Arabic, when the call to prayer rang out through the town speakers there is something so calm and peaceful about it.
They go about their day at a slow pace, enjoying simple moments, stopping to enjoy tea with friends and strangers, love their families, work hard and are deeply committed to culture and religious beliefs. They seek happiness and freedom to choose how they want to live.
This adventure knocked down any preconceived notions of what this country in the Middle East represents and gave me an awareness with deep certainty that we really are more alike than different. So I challenge you to look a little deeper, push aside your preconceived notions of people, places and things and allow yourself to have experiences, because it’s those moments that have the greatest opportunity that govern your seeing.