Talking about visas, if I thought getting an appointment for European consulates was difficult, getting the Jordanian visa is an equally exciting adventure.
Firstly, at the embassy, its a free for all, rule of the strongest as the ability to get the counter's attention is entirely a function of your physical prowess and ability to muscle your way to the counter.
Secondly, the guy hands you a form in Arabic while you look helplessly and try and explain that you DO NOT read or write Arabic. Ah, says the man, as light dawns and he disappears again, hopefully to find you a form in English, which after much search and delay he indeed does. As you sigh in relief and fill out the forms, he throws a googly at you and hands another form in Arabic and with a shake of his little fingers indicates no English...some kind soul translates and helps you fill out the form which includes information on your mom-in-law's date of birth, nationality (??) which really fazed me, but finally you hand over the document only to be told 40 days, come back after 40 days!!!
After all this I had given hopes of ever setting foot on the ancient city of Petra, when my husband added to my misery by telling me he was off for a business trip to Jordan. After much cajoling and threatening he managed to get us business visas as well, and, we were off to Jordan.
I must admit I was not overjoyed at the thought of flying Royal Jordanian esp since the last time had flown it was as a penurious young professional to UK where the airline took off after announcing that the plane needed to be changed for a technical snag...it was the longest flight of my life!!
Reached Amman in one piece and that too very comfortably. The airline staff may not have been very warm but as you spend time in Jordan, you will realise that Jordanians are not very warm or at least not very demonstrative people. I guess the difference is rendered even more stark since I am surrounded by Egyptians who love life and know how to live it to its full and are forever smiling and welcoming. ..
As you drive into the city from the hotel, you are struck by the contrast that appears before you..The city is full of hills, populated by coniferous vegetation and patches of arid brown..I had always thought that Jordan like Egypt was essentially dessert but was clearly off the mark..
What do I say about Amman? It neat clean, in patches very European, a modern city with beautiful limestone buildings which adds to a sense of light and space in the city..its large, spread over a huge range of hills ad is a pleasing sight albeit a little spartan..
The one thing that I did notice was the reference to "The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan" everywhere.. Discovered that Hashemite refers to people belonging to the "clan of Hashim", a clan within the larger Quraish tribe. It also refers to an Arab dynasty whose original strength stemmed from the network of tribal alliances and blood loyalties in the Hejaz region of Arabia, along the Red Sea.
King Abdullah of Jordan was a Hashemite, and his descendants rule the kingdom, hence the name "Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan"....well that's one mystery solved!!