Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ten Things About Amman

Okay, Sunny, you've inspired lots of us.

So here is my attempt to list my favorite and least favorite things about Amman for all those folks who might be getting ready to bid.

 Ten Best Things:

The weather. This week has been kind of nasty, dry and hot, but usually the weather here is perfect. It doesn't often get higher than the mid-90s in the summer, and even then, the evenings are cool enough to warrant bringing a sweater when you go out. Bonus: hardly any snow in the winter. After digging out of snowstorms in Kazakhstan with a giant wooden shovel, and suffering through sweltering humid Moscow summers, I am loving Amman weather. It rivals my home town, Los Angeles.

The commute. It isn't the safest place you could be, but the upside is that we're all required to live close to the Embassy. My commute is a 15-minute walk or a 5-minute cab ride. Won't get that in Virginia. 

The school. The kids are happy, so the parents are happy. Are there things I would change? Of course there are - that's why I ran for the school board. But all in all, I'm pleased that my kids are so comfortable there.

The pool. Again, perhaps because of security issues, there aren't a lot of places where my kids can just hang out and run around by themselves. But there is a pool at the Embassy, and we spend many a summer afternoon there. The kids can run around and I can read a magazine or swim with them.

The Dead Sea. It's only about 45 minutes away, and I never get tired of that place. It's just so cool to look out at that water while the sun sets.

Aqaba. It's further away - about a four hour drive through the desert, but it is a beautiful resort town, where we can relax and pretend we're on an exotic vacation somewhere we've never been before. 

Cheap falafel sandwiches. There's a place near the Embassy where you can buy a falafel sandwich for about 50 cents and dang if they aren't delicious. They make them with hummus and tomato and mint and spicy pepper sauce.

Fruit. It's summer now, and so we're gorging on watermelon and strawberries. The tomatoes are fabulous. The apricots - picked in our backyard - are obnoxiously delicious. Soon the fresh figs will appear and I cannot wait.

Arabic class. Okay, so I technically don't love it because it is frustrating and I am getting nowhere, but every so often I say something right and I feel like a brainiac - that is, until 5 minutes later, when I once again confuse the verbs "to park" and "to fart."

The nanny. It is an amazing gift to be able to have someone in my home so I can go to work and not worry about whether or not I'll get home in time to meet the bus. Not having to iron shirts or fold towels is perhaps the single best thing about life in Amman.

So that's ten. Moving on, I present The Ten Worst Things:

No Asian food. There's no Thai food or Vietnamese food in the entire Kingdom. The Chinese food is pretty gawdawful too. And while I love falafel, I love a good bowl of pho more.

Speed bumps. People please: could you at least paint them with some sparkly paint so I don't rip the bottom off of my car when I fail to spot one and don't slow down in time? Or put up a stop sign instead. Would it kill you to use a stop sign?

Phone bills. I've been here for two years almost, and I cannot for the life of me find a convenient way to pay my phone bill. I can stand in line at Best Buy, and the phone guy may or may not be there, might speak English, and could possibly know how much I owe. Or, you know, not. And that's just the phone in the house. The cell is through another company, and they were happy to charge my credit card when I first arrived, but I have never been able to get an itemized bill out of them, not once. My credit card number changed recently, and I cannot for the life of me get them to use the new card. They prefer to send me texts asking me why I'm not paying. I'm trying, phone people, I'm trying!

Traffic circles. Mark my words: I will crash the car in the 8th circle. It is simply a fact, and frankly, I'm amazed it hasn't happened yet. The merging! The honking! The squashing in! The cutting off! 

Sweifiyeh. I. Hate. This. Neighborhood. Because everything you need is in Swefiyeh, except for parking spaces. Today I tried to go there to buy a yoga mat. I drove for 30 minutes before giving up in despair and driving home. Triple parking seemed excessive to me - though not, from the looks of it, to any of the other drivers in Swefiyeh today.

Mosquitoes. We're in the fourth poorest country in the world in terms of water. They have none. So where in the hell are all of these mosquitoes coming from?

Narrow streets. There are some streets that are simply too narrow for me to squeeze into. Or maybe I just lack depth perception. Probably both. 

Taxis. They're cheap and usually available, but I can't stand them. They are often smoky and the windows don't usually roll down. I don't mind taking them when I know where I am going and it's close, but I hate busting out the Arabic to explain myself when I need to find some place new. And, when feeling pressured, I always mix up the Arabic words for "left" and "right." These are actually critical words to get right when you're giving directions, wouldn't you agree?

Cost of living. A quart of milk, a chunk of Parmesan, a bag of frozen berries? Sure, you can find these things, but be prepared to pay a premium. We have a Gap down the road - yay! - but kids' jeans cost $65 last time I was there. You can get a mocha, sure, but it'll cost you five bucks.

And the tenth thing I dislike about living in Jordan? I'm fresh out of ideas, because mostly I love it here. Any fellow Jordanites want to weigh in with a tenth?


Sara said... [Reply]

I'd love a post in Jordan! The weather sounds like Ethiopia!

Connie said... [Reply]

Not getting an extension here is pretty sucky... :(

Djibouti Jones said... [Reply]

I've been on the prowl for more expat blogs, love yours! I write from Djibouti, which was just named the most expensive Arab world country so I hear you about the cost of living.

Please. Write your own stuff.