“To build all this you see here, they took apart the temple of hercules. And they built an Umayyad castle, dormitories for travelers, and this mosque, and still had stone left over” – Arabic tourguide at Amman Citadel
Tonight is our last night before the language-pledge, so as of next morning, I am going to be obliged to speak to every single person, instructor, and new friend in al-Aarabiyya fuquot (only in Arabic).
This afternoon was just jam-packed with new sites and interesting experiences. We were loaded onto a bus, imagine a very large van with coach seats, and driven around many areas of Amman, with a tour guide that spoke exclusively bil-Aarabi (in Arabic). It’s a pleasant surprise to know how much we can understand now and with relatively few glitches. The tour guide at the Arabic citadel was another story, and this is probably how people will speak to us every day and even more confusing.
The citadel has an amazing panoramic view, perched on top of a mountain. As I learned today, all of Amman is built on mountains, and it is also entirely beige. Just as flying over Egypt it was evident that all of Cairo decided on being terra-cotta, Amman’s scenery is an off-white, creamy sandstone. The ruins were incredible and we saw the fist of Hercules lying on the grass next to his elbow, the only piece of his statue left un-demolished for stone to build structures for later kings and rulers.
After about 2 hours of seeing Roman ruins and straining to understand the guide, we were walked down the mountain through many back-alleys of Amman to a delicious restaurant, called “Al-Kuds” (In Arabic, this means Jersualem). We soon learned that it is in Arabic culture to feed your guests so much that the amount of food left on the table that they couldn’t eat is double what they fit in their stomachs. The reputation of Al-Kuds did not disappoint, and we all left round and happy to be fed Kunafa bought from a small window up an alley a few blocks down. Both of these are in the center of the old-Amman, sort of like their downtown shopping area.
Did I mention that we were accompanied the entire way by a singing tambourine man? First on the bus and then all around this hike? His voice and energy were great and it seemed like he was a professor at Qasid University, where I am starting class tomorrow. Oof, school already.