27 May 2007

Independence Weekend

What a weekend!

On Friday I went with C and B to the Turkish Bath here in Amman. This was my first time visiting the hamam, and it was a wonderful experience. We went to Jebel Amman and walked through the Friday Jara Souk before walking to the Bath. It’s right around the corner from the souk. Women may go in the morning/afternoon, and men in the afternoon/evening. We arrived at 1. We got into bathing suits and were installed in the steam room. It was intensely hot in there, but after about 5 minutes a woman arrived with three glasses of slushy-frozen karkade. It was so good! From the steam room we showered and then waited in a Jacuzzi until a woman was available to scrub us. The woman who called me from the spa was standing next to a marble table that I jumped up on. As I did she said, “You’re from America?” I told her Yes, to which she replied, “Take off your top!” It was not as much of a non sequitur as it sounds, but in retrospect it seems hysterical. She got a luffa and scrubbed almost everything. I was worried it would hurt a bit, but it didn’t. Back to the showers and then for a massage. It was so relaxing. After that we sat in the steam room some more and had another wonderful karkade tea before heading to the showers to get all the oil out of our hair. After we were all cleaned and dressed again we sat in a little lounge. Here they served us delicious coffee and water. This is also where the women working hung out and smoked while waiting to scrub or massage someone. Typical to the Jordanian division of labor, many of the women working there were South East Asian. The women who scrub are Arab, and the women who massage are Asian. What was nice was watching the women sit with each other and smoke and gossip. The Asian women spoke Arabic, and the freely mingled and laughed together. It was also strange for me to watch the Arab women who worked there come into the lounge dressed in abayas and hijab; in the hamam we were in bathing suits, but just to go out into the public part of the building where there was a male receptionist, the women would cover. I didn’t recognize two of them until they came back moments later and stripped back down to their bathing suits. The lounge also served as a necessary space in which to prepare to go back out into the world. We spent hours there, and it helped to sit in a nice room with laughing women before we departed. I’ve never felt so clean in all my life. At 20 JD, it’s a bargain! So, that was how I spent Independence Day in Jordan.

Yesterday I went with Yo and W to the Eastern Desert. We drove the ultra-safe Amman to Azraq highway. We arrived in Azraq fairly early after stopping in Amman for coffee. In search of Bronze Age stuff, we walked around a basalt flow where there were cairns of some sort. There were tons of possibly Epi-Paleolithic lithics around, but no gold. We continued on toward Saudi from Azraq.
We encountered many, many camels along the way. Yesterday I saw the most camels here I’ve ever seen in Jordan. I know this is shameless Orientalist iconography, but camels are so cute to me.

Our off-roading added some decorative pin stripes to the truck. Here is Yo admiring his work. We also saw a Roman Fort in the middle of no where. Evidently dozer drivers all over the world are idiots. Someone drove a dozer up this hill and seriously undermined the hill on which this fort sits. So much archaeology here is plundered in search of “dahab” but this is a new level of destruction. There were other holes all around this site. Nope, no gold, just massive damage to the archaeology. I’ll see if I can find this place on Google Earth. I’m sure some of the pits will show up.

We went off road in search of Qasr Tuba, an Umayyad castle that was never completed. It was pretty cool. It was one heck of a time finding the place. It’s a good 5 kilometers on a dirt road marked by a sign the size of a CD jewel case. Somehow, though, we found it. We had wonderful hummus there which we graciously shared with the flies. Later a Bedouin guy arrived. Before we left the area he'd found a cool place to hang out.

Here is my favorite picture of Yo and W. W seems to present many opportunities to photograph his back side.

It was a fun weekend!


Blogger Weeping Sore said...

Your Turkish Bath experience sounds wonderful. Do those folks know that if they want to cater to American clientele they should call it a day spa and charge 300% more?
And what does the road sign say in Arabic? Beware of flaming jack-knifed oil tankers?

10:26 PM  

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