Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Our friend-making has continued apace in Amman, Jordan, beginning almost as soon as we stepped off the bus. We were failing to hail a cab and a man pulled over, introduced himself, showed us his business card for Governmental Industrial Relations, then drove us to our friend Saif's house, where we were staying. We met up with this amazingly friendly man, Samir, a few nights later, for an evening of lounging in a local-strewn downtown cafe topped off with midnight hummus, falafel, and fuul (fava beans & other stuff). Samir told a joke about an American soldier running from being sent to Iraq, hidin under a nun's dress, then discovering that the nun is actually another American soldier trying to go AWOL. Samir was full of jokes but also spoke seriously about the bombings in Amman not long ago and about tensions in the street between Lebanese and Syrians. Samir is a Jordanian and was instantly suspicious of our Iraqi friend, Saif, immediately wanting to know how we know him and telling us that "we don't trust all Iraqis." Samir later emailed us sweet pictures of himself and his children. For Saif's part, he said he didn't like Samir's vibe, said that he reminded him of state security and that he'd rather not come with us to meet him. A million or more Iraqis have poured into Jordan over the past four years, as it and Syria are the only countries accepting Iraqis without visas, as far as I know. We really saw the effects in Amman: locals complaining about the rising prices, Iraqis clustering in certain neighborhoods, Iraqis lounging about bored (they cannot get work permits), and the mainly Shia Jordanians exhibiting distrust of the many Shia Muslims among the Iraqis (the bombings were perpetrated by Shia Iraqis), and the influx of Iraqi money must be part of the drive behind the many cranes and construction sites around Amman. Iraqis are a new 10% minority in Jordan, a small country. But they are the richer, more educated Iraqis, on average. And they can be sent back to Iraq for even minor infractions, we heard from some of the Iraqis.

That's it for now. More later about the shirts (the newest one is Ultra Violent [sic] Sun Block), Saif's family in Amman, Petra, and the million miniature melting rushmores in the towering rocks of Wadi Rum.

Good night, or at least peace be upon you, wherever you are.

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