Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Drawing on Jordan

This is the gregarious if moderately articulate Bedouin man who graciously escorted us through the Wadi Rum desert in Southern Jordan. To say the least, it was one of the most visually spectacular sights I have ever seen. The landscape is nothing short of breathtaking. Dramatic, arid, ancient, accumulations of sand and mountain punctuate a land magically removed from the normalcy of Westernization.

We watched endearingly from the backseat of a 1970s era Toyota Landcruiser, clad in yak pelt (yeah whatever, I know it wasn't really yak) as he instructed his son in the lay of the land so that he might learn to navigate the stark terrain. It was a beautiful day.

Perhaps most startling to me, as we traversed the length of Jordan's western coast, was how going into this journey the thought of going to Jordan was never something I had given much thought to. Somewhere in my mind was the imbedded notion that Jordan is some kind of terrorist hotbed, hostile to Americans and other outsiders not familiar to Arab customs or Muslim people. My family has been perpetually warning me to stay safe as I travel to these remote and unfrequented territories, and I don't blame them. When my roommate Jim spent a semester in Jordan a year ago I thought he was crazy, why Jordan? I think I had been functioning from an assumption that Arabs are hostile to us Americans and our customs. While there is some truth to this, I must report that Jordanians are among the most friendly, hospitable people I have ever met. I was routinely greeted with smiles when I told them I was American, and this is a country rife with Iraqi refugees, they share a border (see world map).

One thing they did know how to communicate however, no matter how bad the English, was their dislike for our moronic president. So maybe there is hope for us after all. The people are good, I'm telling you, it's our arrogant government that gives us a bad rap. George Bush is a jerk. It's not too late, let's dump him. 2006 baby, Democrats are taking back the house!

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