First Impressions: Jordan
We only had a couple of days in Jordan and, coming from Egypt, I was expecting more of the same. On the surface the countries are similar: predominately Muslim, both with vocal minority groups; landscape dominated be desert and otherwise non-arable land; Jordan is a monarchy and, with the same president for roughly 30 years, Egypt may as well be.
But for the tourist the two countries couldn’t be more different. The antiquities of Egypt are unrivaled and a must for anyone traveling in region. In addition to sites, we had some really incredible experiences and I wouldn’t for a second change the fact that we went there. But, in short, we couldn’t wait to leave.
On the other hand, we were sad to leave Jordan so soon. Despite the fact that there is not nearly so much to see and do for the average tourist (the major exception being the extraordinary ancient city of Petra), it is a very pleasant place to be.
Whereas in Egypt it was impossible to have a genuine conversation without someone applying high pressure sales tactics or taking you to their friend’s store for commission, in Jordan everyone genuinely wants to welcome you to their country and their home. Taxi drivers want to take you for tea. Shopkeepers are eager to share their opinions about refugees, healthcare, or any other topic you wish to discuss. Not one person in Jordan physically blocked our path to try to get us to buy something.
There are lines on the road in Jordan. And most people stay in them.
Whereas in Egypt 90% of the men shamelessly stared at me like salivating dogs drooling over a piece of fillet mignon, here no one gives me a second glance. The culture on the whole seems far more respectful and accepting of women, as well as minority groups and diverse cultures.
In Egypt the skyline was brown and opaque with smog; in Jordan the skyline is hazy and visibility poor because of desert sand. But excessive pollution was not a problem.
For tourists Jordan is often overshadowed by it’s much larger neighbor, but in my opinion it deserves more time than most people give it. We didn’t make it to Syria or Lebanon, which both got rave reviews from travellers we met. If we ever return to see other parts of the Middle East, Jordan will definitely get a few more days.