Ma`a as-salama (Goodbye in Arabic) Amman, Jordan


One of our last sunsets at the Dead Sea

So the time as come to bid goodbye to Amman. Although I’ve already left the country for good and have been living in what I now consider home, I feel the need to come full circle and say goodbye. It was an interesting fourteen months to say the least; I’m happy that I had the opportunity to live in another country, amongst a culture that was different from my own, but nothing feels as good as coming home to familiar things, places, and people who you’ve missed so much.

I didn’t warm up to Amman quickly. Rather, our relationship was on shaky ground for the first few months. Here’s a list of the things that drove me crazy from the get-go and then the things that made my time in Amman something that I’ll cherish and look back upon fondly:

The Bad:

  1. Cats, cats, and more cats. I am an animal lover, not necessarily of cats, but I hate seeing starving and sad, pitiful cats (some with wounds and worse still, a one-eyed cat I saw in my neighborhood) climbing into dumpsters looking for food. There’s obviously an overpopulation problem that hasn’t been addressed.

    Sorry, no shots of cats in dumpsters.
  2. Driving and traffic circles: Everyone can agree that driving in Amman and throughout all of Jordan (perhaps all of the middle east) is a nightmare. Lanes are merely suggestions; the light barely turns green and hordes of angry drivers slam on their horns. It’s stressful and dangerous and I’m so happy to never have to drive there again.
  3. No love for dogs. Poor Shanti. He moved from a dog-friendly community where people treated dogs equally as well as children to a place where dogs are considered harem (forbidden). He is currently in hiding until his hair grows out enough to take him to the groomers. I may just drop him off on the curb in front of the groomers in a basket with money attached so that I don’t have to face the groomer’s horror when she sees the situation–good thing the place is called Hairy Situation.Additionally, he had a bump removed last year in Amman, leaving the poor pup disfigured. His show days are gone.

    Isn’t this the SADDEST dog you’ve ever seen?
  4. Lack of shopping options. As I mentioned throughout my stay, I suffered severely from retail withdrawal. Sure high-end boutiques were aplenty, but there was nothing I could afford. I couldn’t even sneak purchases in the mail because the ‘boss man’ picked up the mail at the embassy, thereby eliminating my stellar ability to sneak items into the house. I have since made up for lost time and am feeling quite content at the moment.
  5. Continuous stomach virus: I won’t get TMI on you here, but it seemed that between the two of us, one of us was sick every week regardless of what we ate, where we ate it, or how careful I was in the food preparation. Enough said.
  6. AFN and Tiger Box television: I will never, ever watch Armed Forces Network (AFN) again. Luckily for me, Raj is not in the military, so the chances of me staying true to my word are good. AFN has no commercials, though they have just as many public service announcements to make up for the lack of commercials. Reminders like “what right looks like” or “never to drive when your medication says may cause drowsiness” will not be missed. Tiger Box, a satellite of sorts, is equally as abysmal. I have never seen so many B movies that I didn’t know existed and yet because I was so starved for entertainment, I was captivated with them solely because there was nothing else on TV.

The Good: 

  1. My tennis coach Basel: I played tennis collegiately and then gave it up for close to twenty years due to burnout and lack of a (good) partner to play with. I rediscovered my love for the game by taking tennis lessons with a fabulous coach whom I wish I had met when I was playing competitively. The only bargain in Jordan was tennis lessons. By the time I left, I was taking lessons three times a week for an hour and a half each time. According to Basel, had he been my coach when I was young, I would have played professional. Oh how I miss my lessons.
  2. My self-indulgent “me time” schedule: Now that I’m back to work, I no longer have the luxury of waking up when I want, playing tennis or running at the gym, going to Barre classes, teaching or doing my own personal practice of yoga, meeting Raj at the embassy for lunch, laying out by the pool, reading, blogging…O my God the list could go on and on…. Gone are my days as a “lady of luxury.” You will be missed!
  3. Grace, our friend and cleaning lady: Grace was recommended to us by a co-worker of Raj. She was such a loving companion to Shanti when we left him in her care on multiple, long-term occasions. She took such great care of our house too. I wish she could come to live with us here! I know Shanti would sing to that.
  4. Traveling: We have been on so many amazing long and short trips while we were in Jordan. The Egyptian cruise at Christmas still remains my all time favorite, though there were so many fabulous others. As much as I love traveling, I’m looking forward to staying put for a while and traveling locally, revisiting our favorite haunts and checking out other new places.
  5. Parties and Events: We had to opportunity to attend parties at a number of embassies in Amman. The highlight, getting up-dos and sanctioned shopping for appropriate ‘party’ clothing.

    Love the up-do, but I’m paying the price in damage.
At the French Embassy, Bastille Day

So I’m left with a blog entitled Jen Maan in Amman and even though I’m no longer living in Amman, I’ll be redirecting my focus to the things that I still love to do regardless of where I’m living, like cooking, baking, crafting…just no longer in the middle east.

Ma`a as-salama…

Jen

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27 thoughts on “Ma`a as-salama (Goodbye in Arabic) Amman, Jordan

  1. Agh! What will we do without your Middle Eastern blog??!! I have SO enjoyed all that you shared on your adventure. I’m glad you made it stateside though. I can imagine how happy you are to come home!!

    1. Thanks for following the blog Kim! It’s so nice to be home! If you and the kids are ever out in the DC area, you have to visit us. There’s so much to see and do here. BTW, how are classes going?

    1. Thank you! I’m still waiting for your cookbook; you’ve got the makings of a great cookbook for small spaces and your photos are so beautifully crafted that you wouldn’t even need a photographer.

  2. Well, I came latish to the party but I did enjoy your posts on Amman. Is home in the States? I’ll have to go to your About page next to check. Hope to see you soon, wherever you may be.

  3. What a lovely wrap-up to your time in Amman. I loved how you brought closure to the whole experience. Now that you’re home, I hope you keep posting and letting us know what you’re up. I also hope you continue to subscribe to my blog, although I’ll kind of miss not showing you what’s happening here. I still can’t believe I did that Penzey’s post and you found my blog!

    Nancy

    1. Thank you so much. Of course I’ll still be a follower of your blog. Your photos are amazing and Penzey’s brought me to you. By the way, I’m featured in the Penzey’s Fall catalog and have a couple of my favorite middle eastern recipes. I’ll still be posting so stay tuned…

  4. So long Jordan, hello Old Town and welcome back.. When the decision came to visit you and Raj in Jordan or meet half way in France, well, no decision there…I really was looking forward to walking your dog Shanti around the dog friendly neighborhood, right….I did get to see all of us in the spice catalog.. I really expect the women to start calling any time now so if you list our phone numbers make sure it’s my cell and not your mothers…Your life will be interesting where ever you are and folks will be interested in seeing what you are up to, be it cooking, yoga, arts and crafts or traveling.. Say hello to all my friends in Old Town, especially the folks down at Chadwicks Restaurant.. Love, Dad

  5. Congratulations on living in a foreign country and adjusting (or trying to at least) to the different culture and language. It must have seemed like you were gone for ages, but now that you’re back in the States, not much has probably changed and you can just pick up where you left off. I enjoyed reading about your life in Jordan (from one ex-pat to another). I’ll continue to write about our adventures here in Ecuador. Love, Patty

  6. Hi, I am living in Amman and interested in taking tennis lessons. Do you have he contact phone number for you coach, Basel. Thanks, Jeff

  7. Hi Jen, I came across your blog looking for a good tennis coach in Amman.

    Could you please please connect me to your guy Basel? He seems exactly what I’m looking for 🙂

    Best wishes,

    Milic

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