Tag Archives: tourists

The Roman Amphitheater

In Amman there is are a number of ruins from various times in history. This city has been inhabited for thousands of years and has been under the control of many different groups of people. In Jesus’ day it was one of the ten Roman cities that collectively were know as the Decapolis.

The Romans left their mark in a number of ways but one of the most striking is an amphitheater that they built in the heart of the city. This theater is as tall as most modern football stadiums. The acoustics are just as pitch perfect as the day it was built and from the right spot on stage even the faintest voice can be heard with crystal clarity high up the hill.

The steps leading to the top are just steeper than a forty-five degree angle. I couldn’t help but think that in modern America this would just be a lawsuit waiting to happen. I’m glad that in some places in the world people are still taught to take responsibility for their own actions.

Once I reached the top I sat and watched the other people milling around the theater. There were some in large tour groups, with guides explaining the long history of this impressive structure. While there were others who were all by themselves, perched on the highest points of the theater, sitting alone while surveying the vast expanse of the city stretching before them.

I can’t help but wonder where these different people were from. What’s their story? What brought them to Amman? There were people from all over the world, Americans, Europeans, Asians, even Jordanians. I saw one young married couple laughing, having fun, taking pictures of each other. Honeymoon? I wonder.

There was a small museum in one of the rooms inside the theater that displayed some of the traditional dress from the region. The women’s clothing was adorned with coins that would have been been part of her dowry upon getting married. The men’s clothing that was on display was that of a soldier, with rifle and bandoleer. He was even fitted with a small dagger that has been traditionally carried by religious pilgrims for hundreds of years.

Having finish my exploration of this piece of history, I went with two friends to a favorite restaurant of mine that happened to be near by. I rounded out my day with the quintessential Jordanian meal: Mansef. I’ll have to do another post on mansef. It deserves one of its own. For now, it is sufficient to say that it is a meal which is both filling and delicious. It also makes you want to go take a nap, just like a good thanksgiving dinner.

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Being a Tourist

When I first got here to Jordan, I was excited to see all of the fascinating and historic places that dot the map across this country. But, at the same time, I really didn’t want to be lumped in with “tourists”. It’s not that I think there is anything wrong with tourism itself but rather it is those tourists who are loud and rude and know nothing about the culture that bother me. In a word, I find them disrespectful.

So, I did my best to be an “interested outsider”. Someone who knows enough about the culture to be respectful but acknowledges that he still has a lot to learn. It is easy enough not to dress like a tourist (don’t have a Hawaiian shirt or shorts with me) and I’m not about to put on a fanny pack. I try not to get caught looking at my map and am always very discreet when taking pictures. I still stand out but there isn’t a whole lot I can do about my blond hair and blue eyes.

After having been here for more than a year, I don’t get to do as much traveling as I did at first. Just like at home, life gets busy and you have responsibilities to attend to. But on occasion, I still get to do a little sight seeing. It’s kind of odd to have your “hometown”, where you live and work, turned into a exotic travel destination by doing nothing more than deciding “I’m going to be a tourist today”.

The past couple of days I decided to do just that. I did a little sight seeing here in Amman and some in a nearby town called Madaba. I’m going to take a few posts this next week to share about some of the things I saw.