Friday, May 26, 2006

Independence Day in Amman

So, yesterday was a pretty fun day. It was the Jordanian Independence Day - 60 years ago the UK dissolved the Palestinian protectorate and formed the country of Transjordan, which later was renamed Jordan after it took the West Bank from Israel in one of the many wars they've been having.

Because of that, we got a three day weekend (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). We hoped to go to Petra for the whole three days and stay in a hotel there, and Kirk told us to go out and see stuff, but the next day, he sent out an e-mail saying that all travel on Friday (the Sabbath here) was prohibited, meaning that our Petra plans (and everyone else's) were dashed. Lots of people got mad at him since he gave us no alternatives. It seemed like we'd never be able to leave Amman for extended periods of time to see other places. A few days later he called a meeting and told us he'd make other real 3 day weekends for us to leave and see stuff in Jordan. So hopefully we'll have time soon to get to Petra.

So, since we were stuck in Amman for the 3 day weekend, we went downtown to see what ancient things exist here. One of the main sites is an ancient (duh) Roman amphitheater that is extremely well preserved (Europeans use rock to build buildings - Arabs make their own brick out of sand - when Europeans needed building materials, what better source did they have than a huge colosseum sitting in the middle of town, not doing anything. The Arabs just ignored the big stone things here. Plus, it never rains here - minimal weather damage).

The theater is huge, and is part of the old Decapolis city of Philadelphia (modern day Amman, obviously). The main capital is on the top of a huge hill, now called the Citadel, and the old temple, or Acropolis, is up there too. Most of those buildings are destroyed now after numerous wars and stuff over the past 2000 years, but it's still pretty cool.

When we got our tickets (1 JD each - cheap), we walked in and an old, nearly toothless man came and proclaimed himself our guide for 5 JD. He then started giving us the tour before we could say no. He took us through the two museums and the main amphitheater really quick so that he could take us out to a small souvenier store and force us to buy something. We left the Slades in the shop and ran back to the amphitheater to take more time in it. It was nicer without the guide reciting a made up tour. For example, in one of the musems they had a whole bunch of mosaics from the city of Madaba (near the Dead Sea - biblical Moab). One mosaic was clearly labeled as "boy with wig," but the old guy said that the mosaic came from the amphitheater and was a picture of the king of Rome (wouldn't that be emperor?)

After that, we went to the main market to buy some cheap DVDs - 1 JD each. We bought Paradise Now last week, about 2 Palestinian suicide bombers (Nancy wrote about that earlier), so we bought 5 more yesterday (Ice Age 2, The Wild, Munich, The Benchwarmers, and the Legend of Zorro). We watched The Benchwarmers when we got home, but the quality was horrible, as was the film. Some guy filmed it from the back of a theater, so we got the audience laughing along and occasional popcorn breaks and people standing up to go in and out of the theater. Hopefully our other movies are good quality like Paradise Now.

While we were in downtown, the Jordanian Air Force put on an airshow right above the market, so everyone on the streets (and the cars) stopped and watched for 10 minutes. It was pretty cool. Later that night we heard fireworks, but couldn't see anything because our window faces away from downtown.

Today was pretty uneventful - we just went to church, came back, took a nap, got the wireless working, and cleaned and organized and relaxed. Tomorrow we'll do some more stuff in downtown more, maybe, and I have tons of homework to catch up with.

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