Last century I was in Jordan and all my photos from my entire Middle East trip were destroyed at the airport when I flew out from Israel—I mean, occupied Palestine. I had a big argument with the staff and one thing led to another, and all my film was destroyed. I’m still not over it.
Anyway, I distinctly remember Amman having the biggest shawerma (also spelled “shawarma” in some skinnier, roasted-meat-on-a-vertical-spit places) I had ever seen. I dubbed it Big Fatty. It was as tall and as big as me. Guys were on ladders putting the meat on top, it was so big. I told everyone at the hostel about Big Fatty and they didn’t believe it, so I paid for a taxi to bring everyone out there, and they were duly impressed.
Had to see it again. I got the address from my old journal book, confirmed on the CouchSurfing Jordan group about its existence, and made my way out to Reem Shawerma on 2nd Circle.
I was disappointed. It wasn’t so big, maybe the size of a dwarf. Did I catch it on a bad day? Did my memory deceive me?
More satisfying was a visit to Al Hashem restaurant, a hole in the wall that none other than King Abdullah patronized with his wife. It’s very impressive that a head of state would eat in such a humble establishment. Pictured below is flat bread, felafel, fuul (mashed fava beans slow-cooked in spices) and velvety smooth hummus that has some olive oil vigorously drenched on it Mario Batali-style. This is about $3.
A French girl from the hostel and I went to King Abdullah mosque together, one of the only mosques that infidels can visit, but it has some surprisingly shoddy craftsmanship. Tiles shouldn’t be coming off a 25 year old roof that is a showcase mosque for your king. And I think it’s wrong to pay to enter a house of worship.
We didn’t see a ticket office but an old man hanging around let us in. He asked for a tip afterward and we gave a few dollars to him. He asked where I was from and when I said “America”, he smiled and gave me back the money. I resisted but he insisted. I tried to ask why, but we couldn’t communicate well and he drifted away. The French girl was flabbergasted. An American getting such treatment?
The demonstrations and coup in Tunisia are news here. Even last week in southern Jordan there were riots from disgruntled youth about the government. In the Arab world it seems like any action always begins after Friday prayers, so Friday morning I asked the hostel manager, “Anything to see today? Riots? Fighting?” I knew he was the man to ask because although the hostel TV gets hundreds of channels, he watches American wrestling.
But nothing was on, just 1000 people marching in the streets, protesting against rising prices