Tag Archives: buses

On a Bus to Madaba

In addition to doing some sight seeing here in Amman, I also recently got to go to Madaba. Madaba is a town south of Amman that has a very rich cultural history. It is most known for the mosaics that artisans have produced there for centuries. But I’ll talk more about that in another post. I have to get to Madaba first.

There are a number of ways to get to Madaba from Amman. You could rent a car for a day for 20 to 30JD (~ $28 to $42 U.S. dollars). You could get a taxi for about 15JD (~ $21). Or you could take the bus for .65JD (~ 90 cents). Hummm… which one should I go with… ?

After deliberating for an entire nanosecond, I decided to take the bus. If you read my earlier post about riding the bus you probably won’t be surprised to hear that taking the bus is always a bit of an adventure. You’re never 100% certain about where you’ll end up but the odds are in your favor that you’ll get where you want to go. And for less than a buck, I’ll take them odds.

So, I went to Ragadan Station to catch my bus to Madaba. There aren’t any signs to tell you which bus goes where and a bus that goes to one destination won’t necessarily be found in the same spot the next time. However, some buses do have their destination written on the front of the bus. Luckily for me, after just a little bit of looking, I found one labeled ‘Madaba’.

Upon boarding the bus, the driver gave me a strange look and asked me where I was going. After shaking off the feeling of deja vu, I told him “Madaba” and took my seat at the back of the bus near an open window. I got comfortable and looked forward to a pleasant ride. In all honesty, I enjoy riding the bus. I find it relaxing. Usually.

As the bus began to fill up, a man took the seat behind me and immediately decided he wanted the window closed (it was shared between our two seats). So much for the refreshing breeze. To add insult to injury, not terribly long after we had gotten on our way, this man and his friend both decide they need a cigarette.

Something to know about Jordan, if you ever plan on visiting here, is that smoking is permissible anywhere. Your taxi driver will smoke in the car with you. Your doctor will smoke in the clinic with you. I’ve seen restaurants that have “no smoking” signs above the tables and ash trays on the tables. So, on the bus, it is always possible someone might light up. You just hope that they aren’t sitting right behind you. With the window closed.

It wasn’t too long, though, before this guy and his friend got off and I was able to enjoy the fresh air of countryside. The ride from this point on was quite pleasant as we drove through ancient farmlands covered in olive groves or fields dotted with Bedouin tents. In what seemed like no time at all we were rolling into Madaba.

Bus #27

The other day, I got on bus #27 as part of my ongoing effort to master the bus system here in Amman. As I climbed aboard, the bus driver gave me a strange look and asked (in Arabic of course) where I was going. Well, I wasn’t going anywhere in particular. I just wanted to ride the bus for the full route to see all of the places where it goes so that, in the future, if I need to go to any of those places I would know which bus to take. I tried to remember as much of my Arabic as I could to explain to him my plan while at the same time demonstrating my extensive command of the language. “I go, just” I responded. He rolled his eyes and shook his head.

As I took my seat, I wondered why he bothered to ask where I was going. Did he know something I didn’t? My misgivings were soon forgotten as the bus passed within walking distance of Abdoun Circle, which is a popular hangout spot for many of my students. Shortly after that, we passed right in front of the American Embassy, which was quite handy to find out because I was in need of getting pages added to my passport. Then we began to pass through residential areas and before long we were headed out of town. The number of people on the bus dwindled to a small handful. Finally we stopped and the driver told everyone to exit.

Now, on other bus routes, when you get to this point, there is another bus waiting for anyone who wants to go back in the other direction. But, apparently, this route is special. No homeward bound bus. Leaving me stuck way out in the boonies.

I tried to get my bearings about me and figure out which way to go. I began walking in the direction where I thought I could find a taxi. It wasn’t long before the road began turning away from where I wanted to go. There weren’t any side streets that I could turn down but I did see one way to get from where I was to where I thought I needed to be.

A hill.

A 45 degree angle hill.

A 100+ yards high, 45 degree angle hill.

Oh, and it was covered in trash.

As I began to climb this mountain of garbage, I consoled myself with the thought that a taxi waited for me at the top. I picked my way through slowly, choosing my steps carefully, so as not to tumble back down through the refuse. The climb was tiring and as I got close to the top I found a spot were I could take a moment to rest.

But as I turned around, rather than catching my breath, I found it taken away by one of the most marvelous views that I have seen anywhere in Jordan. Stretching for miles before me was the very picture of a peaceful countryside. The soft rolling hills, still green with spring grass and trees, were dotted with a few cottage-like homes here and there. Cotton ball clouds clumped together around the setting Sun leaving only a few golden rays to stream down like outstretched arms. Imagine Thomas Kinkade.  In HD.

I stood there for a while soaking in the beauty of the Lord’s creation before continuing on my way. Upon reaching the top of the hill, it wasn’t long before I was able to find a taxi back to my apartment (and it only cost me six times as much as the bus that had brought me out there).

So, places to remember about bus #27’s route:

  • a short hike to Abdoun Circle
  • the very doorstep of the American Embassy
  • a mountain of trash
  • a view to take your breath away