Jordan: Beyond Tourism
I’ve wanted to come here for the longest time… Having both my parents being from Iraq, the Middle East in general has called my name. I always wanted to go but it was never easy since visiting my roots would mean going to Baghadad, which is not been the safest of all places the last couple of years. Times are however changing and now, I am in a place in my life where travel is how I live. I therefore decided to start my journey through the Middle Eastern countries by going to the one my parents met in, and that I have heard stories from since I was a kid because of its beauty & hospitality Jordan. Hello we are finally in Amman, Jordan. so I'm very excited obviously because it's super close to Iraq, so it feels like I am very close to my roots.
and today we're just gonna explore the town. so come with us, and see what we can find. Exactly like Mexico. so right now we're just looking for a place to eat because, we're starving - Hello! - And hello! and uhm.. we're gonna see what we find he did say it's this way so I have no idea if it is or if it's further but we're just gonna walk around and see, probably we're gonna find a restaurant somewhere so, let's see where we end up. ok I wanna eat here for sure I wanna eat here It's chicken, should we go inside? - can we film here? - In the restaurant? Yes no problem but do not show my face - no no, no problem - thank you the shisha is only $4.00 (JOD)
- oh my! - show me I'm gonna try to get chicken but I think now I'm gonna get the Shish Taouk Ooo...with the yoghurt, the yoghurt sauce. I haven't had yoghurt sauce in I minute I always do it at home but I haven't at been home for a while so I'm so excited. I just asked if we’re allowed to film when they are cooking the food you have to see Tabbouleh because Tabbouleh is it's my favourite salad in the world. and it's one here, it's $1.00 (JOD) and in Sweden I would buy it and like literaly one plate is like 9 euros it's ridiculous. - Kit Kat - Kit Kat. Restaurant Kit Kat
- Kit kat, Amman - Amman, Restaurant Kit Kat - very very very good - very good come join - come to Kit Kat! this is my favourite thing in the world like I'm not even exagerating this for like the video or anything I love Tabbouleh my mom always makes it and if she doesn't make it I literally go buy it. and it's parsley, bulgur, tomato it honestly never get too sour for me cause I always, I used to eat lemon with salt when I was a kid as a snack Thank you olive oil it's so good that I can't I love this salad from the bottom of my heart like this is like.... like for me if I don't know what I wanna eat this is it, like everytime there is not a moment in my life where I don't wanna have Tabbouleh. we just got everything like, I just, we just finished the food and now they just came out with all of this like he said he was going to give something for free and he explained a little bit, but I feel like I did catch everything and now he came out with all of this all of this, as we just finished uhm... A lot of food I'm gonna try everything even though my stomach is bursting and I've already.... unbuttoned the jeans
but obviously I have to try this I have no idea what kind of fish it is but it's so good I feel like... I'm gonna be full for the rest of the day because because this is a lot, because I also eat it all with bread - ok I will try these brochetas (Shish Taouk) - it's from uhm, it's chicken? - It's chicken - ok let's see - have you tried Middle Eastern food before? - no, this is the first time, so I have to do it with this? - yeah I would eat it with a bread put some of the sauces on this - like this? - yeah - this is a bread pita right? - Mhm - I love this, is so nice, this is hummus? - no this is hummus - that's hummus - and this one? - it's Baba Ganoush - ok - I'm gonna try it, this is uhm..... - Tabbouleh - Tabbouleh? - yes - looks nice - this is so good - this is how it's prepared? let's see. - yeah? - Banging - Kit Kat! we are the leaving the restaurant now uhm.. and not only were they incredibly like happy to see us and just welcomed us with everything they also gave us all the food for free, we did not pay anything for that food and then they kept bringing more food and we have a lot of leftovers so we are gonna probably go back to where we're staying at the hostel and share our food because we cannot just leave eat this alone and honestly, amazing another really good example of Middle Eastern hospitality and I'm incredibly happy that this happened because it just shows like, it's so easy we didn't even had to look for anywhere like specific to show the hospitality of the Middle East we could literally just go on the street and we would just experience it daily everywhere and it is incredible, I am incredibly happy for this something I didn’t know about Jordan prior to coming here was the amount of Greco-Roman architecture that they have.
Jerash, located north of Amman, is famous for being one of the best preserved Greco-Roman cities in all of the Middle East, its history dating back to over 6500 years ago. we were not allowed to enter with our camera here, so we filmed with our phones instead to showcase parts of this beautiful city. a long hot walk inside the old city of Jerash, and an amazing 50 cent falafel later, we were on our way to our next location… Amman was the perfect base to have for the smaller day trips we had planned. there was one place in particular that I’ve been intrigued to see since I played an old pink panther game as a kid the Dead Sea.
a salt lake located on the lowest point of earth. around 398 m below sea level. the people at the hostel helped us arrange a car with a driver and we were on our way. there were different yet limited options on where to go to swim in the Dead Sea. what seemed like the easiest option though, was to go via a hotel.
but to be very honest with you, that ended up not being the best option… (singing in spanish) - here we are at the dead sea floating - hello! it's a video! - are you floating? - I'm struggling - that's so nice as in yes, we got to enjoy and have the comforts of showers and dressing rooms. however, we were not allowed to bring our camera inside so we had to film with my phone. we decided that we were just going to make the most out of our day, float around in the water and cover ourselves in the very rich minerals clay making it a self care day. the streets of Amman offer a beautiful insight to Middle Eastern culture. from the classic shisha shops on every street, to the smell of fresh street food. A man offering freshly pressed juices, and traditional clothing stores.
here they have both Jordanian and Palestinian traditional clothing. the dresses are called “caftan” or “authog” and are most commonly used in hennas, a pre-wedding party, or weddings. this shop had clothing for both men and women for all weathers, the shop owner explained that the long jackets called “farwas” are used when the weather is colder but you still want to wear traditional attire.
absolutely stunning. right under our hostel was this family-owned shop where we would pass every day, say hi and talk a bit to the people working. - do you like the spicy one? - yes I do but not very spicy, a little spicy - ok test this - Ooo... no, it's good - spicy? - this one we make it localy here take a little bit and enjoy it - banging - Can I ask you something? You live in Sweden why you are so tan? - yeah, because I was in Spain and Morocco before I came here that's why I am so tan this day, the dad wanted to show us how he roasts and flavors the nuts and seeds that they sell. they heat up the salt, put the seeds in, add a secret spice mix and blend it with water.
easy and very flavourful, a staple at any Middle Eastern household, especially when guests arrive. - it's very good - I even eat the shell, I like - want to try? - yes. I asked him where I could get a container for my Argan oil that I had bought prior in Morocco. he gave me some free snacks and then walked me to a perfume shop nearby. the perfume shop was owned by a man from Mosul, Iraq, who welcomed us with open arms, super happy about me being Iraqi too.
as per usual, the Middle Eastern hospitality shined through as the man wanted to give me a gift: a perfume of my own choice. he had a wide selection of smells and any perfume you would like, any dupe, he would be able to make it. - in this way you can smell it better - and this is a concentrated oil perfume - you have to smell this now so you can be calm and forget the first smell ok so they told to me to smell the coffee to like cleanse not my pallet obviously but like cleanse for my nose so I can smell the next one I personally don’t really wear perfume so I asked for very natural ended up getting one with lavender and vanilla. my welcome to Jordan remained equally warm as the first day, and this continued throughout my entire trip.
he just gave me this perfume that I got to choose like the different smells that I wanted and he just gave me that for free as well uhm... he's from Iraq so he has come here from Iraq and he's working here and has his perfume shop and he just gave me my own little smell that I could have. on our plane to Jordan I was seated next to this Scottish guy, Fraser.
we quickly became friends and ended up spending the entire flight talking about the trip to come as it was the first time in Jordan for both of us. Fraser was in Amman for work, so we decided to meet up to indulge in the culture. and honestly, what better way to do this than to explore the food scene where the locals eat? Bless him banging honestly local lamb after having delicious Maqluba fed to us by the manager, our stomachs were bursting. the only way to solve this was to move on to dessert. standing in line for apparently the best Kunafa in town and every Jordan person I know from Jordan has told us to come here so we have to try it so now we're just standing in this long ass line to get this So hopefully it's going to be worth it, I really think so if all the arabics are standing in line, it's gonna be worth it Kunafa, a traditional Middle Eastern dessert made from Kataifi pastry, typically layered with cheese, soaked in a very sweet syrup called attar. - everyone talks to you in Arabic - yeah but I'm Mexican - I speak spanish! I speak spanish! You can find Kunafa all over the Middle East, but this particular place had a long line of locals waiting for a piece every night we spent in Amman.
so obviously we had to try it. I'm so excited where? where can we sit? here? this is the famous Kanafel from Amman oh my god look at this! banging - what's that? - Kunafa, it's like uhm.. - I don't know how to describe it - it's very Middle Eastern, it's like a sweet, a dessert - I've had it many times - and it's so good - like this is the reason why there was a whole line for this - This is perfect Kunafa - look at this our last night in Amman had come to an end and in the morning we were going to start moving towards the desert. Hiram and I arrived in the city in the afternoon, so using our Jordan pass to get into Petra was not an option as we wanted the full day at the site. Instead we heard of little Petra, a smaller part of the site with free entrance. we decided to head there to get a little sneak peek together with some people we met at the hostel Billy, a British guy we met while filming in Morocco, who had just arrived from Egypt.
Adam and Freddie, who were traveling through the Middle East with their motorcycles. and Nia, a girl from Spain that was staying in Jordan to work with stray animals. You can find her instagram and support her here (below) - See you guys! - Bye! - but look how nice this is! - the rock girl! - they were laughing at me, they were like - like you have ALL of this - and then you're picking up these f**ing rocks like - but they are so nice! and they're everywhere - There's no fun anymore they're never gonna...
- Welcome to Jordan! - don't put it down! - no, never... - I would never... - I would never.
- what is happening now like... - here we go. - I feel like we're taking it a bit too far - I literally just wanted this like - I'm like We arrived back at the hostel at the perfect time as the food was being served. for a small amount of money everyone shared an amazing dinner consisting of traditional Jordanian Maqluba and afterwards, the hostel owner taught the guests how to dance Dabke. It was incredible to see everyone coming together to enjoy a meal and then dance together, learning about the culture of the country and all of this, in a hostel for 7 usd a night. since none of us had really explored the town yet we decided to go out and see what we could find.
despite Petra itself being a very known tourist attraction, Wadi Musa, which is the nearest town to the site, didn't feel like it was swarmed by tourism. we found a shisha café where we were the only tourists and it ended up having a very arabic evening. lots of tea together with grape mint and double apple shisha. and a very homey feeling as well when the owner even brought out a big speaker so we could connect our phones and play music… for f**k's sake! don't make it weird personally, I love this type of vibe. It’s something I grew up with so it made me really happy to see the guys enjoy it as much as me.
all of us woke up super pumped the next morning as it was finally time for something we had all been looking forward to none of us realized just how big the site was prior to visiting as the instagram pictures almost always just showcases the famous Treasury. It felt like a true adventure to try to find the best viewpoint without a guide, and after hiking around offroad for about 3h… we finally did. Petra.
greeted with Jordanian tea we had the perfect view from above, seeing all the tourists down by the Treasury looking like small ants from where we were standing. Petra is truly stunning. It’s a place of ancient history, the whole city is half built/half carved into the rocks in the desert. there are so many passages and gorges there really is a reason as to why it is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites. It’s the most popular tourist site in Jordan and probably the side of Jordan people see most on social media. f**ing sick! going down to the Treasury the atmosphere really changes, and everything is clearly revolved around tourism.
people everywhere are taking photos, camels for rent to spice up their holiday picture, fake Bedouins dressed up for entertainment and a very hectic environment overall. to be honest, it's just like any other touristy site around the world. we quickly learned that one day is not enough if you truly want to see all parts of Petra.
and despite the very touristy atmosphere during the day at different hotspots, the atmosphere once again changed as the sun was setting. we walked up to the Monastery which was pretty much empty of people when we got there. Hiram went up one of the viewpoints to capture the sunset And me? I was having tea with 3 other travelers and a true Bedouin, one of the few still living there since prehistoric times, while watching the sun set over the mountains. It was a magical ending to a successful day of exploring Petra, both my day and by night.
before coming to Jordan it was important that we had contacts. when we did our first video in Culiacán, Hiram was the contact, so it was easier to plan things out because we were doing the video together and it was in his home city. However this time… we didn’t really know anyone from Jordan. so I decided it was time turn to Instagram I wrote a post about how we are filming in Jordan, and how we would appreciate any contacts in these countries a handful a people reached out and one contact that we ended up seeing in Jordan, was Atallah.
Atallah had been the guide for a couple I met in Guatemala, Eléa & Matheus. you can check out their instagram and Eléas travel-agency in the description. Thank you guys once again for the contact! This area is stunning you see big rock formations everywhere it's a bit different from other deserts that I have seen at least and the camels are just roaming free which is super nice we just saw one, while driving and it's like, living its best life I contacted him to explain what we were looking to do and he loved the idea. he picked us up by the bus station near the entrance to Wadi Rum, gave us a place to stay, food and made sure we got a proper introduction to the desert life. Bedouins are nomadic arab tribes, and despite Atallah and his brothers working with the tourists, living mostly in the village, his family still lives a nomadic life. to put things into perspective, they didn’t have a water tank until 2018.
so essentially, for them, this is the way they grew up and have lived their entire lives. this is also the reason why we didn’t film the women as they didn’t feel comfortable with it Wadi Rum is not massive, and with the luxury camps taking over the space, there’s little room for the nomads to move around with their cattle which they depend on. the desert was filled with camps, some of them abandoned or just getting built we wanted to hear Atallah perspective on the situation in Wadi Rum my name is Atallah I work in the desert and I'm a Bedouin guide tourism in the beginning it was very nice for bedouins but for now when there is too many tourism it made the Bedouin's life change so they are making so many buildings the investors, for the tourist so it's not become anymore a desert for the Bedouin's life style so the Bedouin's in the beginning work with tourism and they earn very good then when there is too many tourism comes there is a lot of people from outside they come and build hotels and then.. investors from the Gulfs and from Europe even they come to make big hotels in the desert which is not the Bedouin way of life because the Bedouins they're used to live in a very quiet area and they let the animal free around them but since they build all of these buildings in the desert the animals and Bedouins they don't feel freedom anymore so some of them they go back to live in the village they give up and some of them live far away in the desert which is very hard for them I'm working with tourism and by eco-tourisim so I... my way is nomad way so I stay in a place I camp in place the next morning I leave and I won't leave anything behind me so I want the desert as for me as for my kids and for next generation to see it as I see it if I could change one thing in Wadi Rum I would just remove all the camps and everything being built in the desert the desert will be very beautiful after Wadi Rum is my home so I love it and I will never leave this area whatever happen I will stay in the desert I will live and die in this desert we are on our way to a different family to see how they live as well we met with Atallah’s brother Difallah who took us together with a friend of the family, Stephanie, to visit another Bedouin family living nomadically We sat down with him and his son, ate, and spent time together before heading back to the village. Hiram and I ended up joining the tourists on their tour as they drank tea, ate good food and camped out under the stars while Difallah was telling them stories about life in the desert there are a few key things we wanted to show in this video stunning architecture and beautiful landscapes but also the other side of tourism to make people aware and honestly to hopefully influence people into making more eco-friendly choices of tourism by choosing to go with the locals, you not only support the local economy but also the environment the Bedouins care about the desert, it’s their home, they know how to treat it right.
because here’s the thing, Jordan is a country with a lot of tourism. It’s a relatively easy country to travel to and people are not complete strangers to the idea of coming here despite it being located in the Middle East. his is beautiful because travelers from all over the world are able to come here and see the beauty of the Middle East and its culture people get to see history and beautiful nature whilst being emerged into a culture which is special to this region of our world I ended up staying in Jordan longer by myself as Hiram left to continue his travels Atallah and his family welcomed me with open arms a solo female traveler, living with a family of Bedouins in the desert immediately noticed when we were coming over to the sheep and they are very much protecting the area but in a very friendly way like they come and they wanna like, come and have a nice time but at the same time you can tell they are very much protecting the area there's even a dog over there you can see it like following the sheep where they're going and it's super nice they were protecting us all night because there are different animals coming here they said wolves and foxes and so they have dogs protecting their homes and all night whenever something was coming close you could hear them going crazy Hello guys! should we go a bit further? little bit, is that ok with you? come on now my last night we went out with the jeep and I decided to leave camp to climb one of the rocks I spent my night sleeping there, right under the stars, alone, until a fox came to join me at one point that experience was definitely something the family did not only welcome Hiram and I but also our friends, and I will forever be grateful for what we got to experience. I decided to end my trip by the sea in Aqaba, as soon as I arrived a friend I met in Brazil Neasa, from Ireland, another thank you! set me up with her friend Samer who does boat tours on the Red Sea there, I ended up spending 3 days just diving, snorkeling, eating good food, making new friends and relaxing they took me in like a sister immediately and not once, not in Aqaba nor in Wadi Rum did they ever ask for anything in return from neither Hiram, me or our friends amazed thank you to Atallah and his family in Wadi Rum, we leave their information and contacts below in the description. if you ever in Wadi Rum desert and wanted to do a tour and thank you to Samer and the Trident crew, to taking me as asister my last days in Jordan we wanted to show Arab hospitality, and without even trying, we succeeded Thank you Jordan for this time, goodbye