Crick-Stompin’ Shoes

…or, What Protests?

Wadi al-Kerak near the Dead Sea, Jordan

On Protests
I’ve been getting messages from Germany, Switzerland and the USA concerned about my safety here in this volatile part of the world. And yes, it’s true, there were protests in Amman today. The US Embassy sent out warden messages advising caution:

The Arab Islamic Leaders asked the people to demonstrate over all countries and they called it the anger day against Israel and to support Gaza, so in Jordan the people will demonstrate after the pray and start from the biggest mosque in each province, in Amman from the Al-Husseini Mosque to the Amman Municipality building.

I understand that tear gas was fired into the crowds again at the Israeli Embassy today. One of our friends from Tareef Cycling Club, Jad Madi, was there and has put up his photographs on his blog. But the photos of my Friday midday are far more serene:

From Wadi al-Kerak

This weekend, Tareef Cycling Club left the bicycles at home and opted for hiking far, far away at the other end of the Dead Sea. And this time, I came prepared with my crick-stompin’ shoes! (For those of you who didn’t grow up in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, a “crick” is what some parts of the country call a “creek” but may also describe a “stream.”)

On Jordanian Customer Service
You see, when we went hiking in Wadi al-Ghwayr, I didn’t know that I would not be able to avoid getting my feet wet, and I got blisters, and my hiking boots were wet for more than a week. So, last night, I went to Mecca Mall to get a pair of shoes that I could hike in but that were meant to get wet. I knew just where I would find these shoes, and made a bee-line to Champions, where I explained what I was looking for. “Water shoes?” says the salesman, without even looking around. “No. We don’t have anything like that.” So I walked all around the entire Mecca Mall, went into every shop with shoes, and found nothing but ordinary trainers. So I thought, well, I don’t know of anywhere else in Amman where I’m likely to find just what I’m looking for, so I’ll go back to Champions and get a closer look. Guess what? I found a dozen styles of shoes meant for the water! And I found a pair that were perfect. No blisters!

On Hiking
So this is the biggest crowd I saw on Friday, today’s incarnation of Tareef Cycling Club:

From Wadi al-Kerak

It was a perfect day for hiking, about 19C down below sea level, sunny, and green. The scenery is just beautiful, very green because of the crick we were stompin’, sometimes with boxy, wind-scoured rock walls, sometimes with more curvaceous water-carved siqs that evoke the landscape of Petra. I saw several different species of frog in different shades of green and brown, and some freshwater crabs, and at one point a bird flew over head that looked very much like a North American blue heron from the bottom of the canyon.

It did seem, at times, to be the same as Wadi al-Ghwayr, but when we came to our lunch spot, with this gorgeous waterfall and palm trees, we agreed that it was much more spectacular. The company was pretty good, too. Stephanie brought her three German roommates along on the trip, Sina, Lena and Theresa, and they spoke a lot of German to each other and some with me. To my chagrin, however, when I tried at the beginning of the trip to translate Ammar’s Arabic description of the trip into German for them, I failed miserably. Oh, sure, I could get the first sentence out in decent German. But after that I switched back to Arabic without even noticing, until finally Sina said, “In English! In English!” Embarrassing. I need a lot more German practice! Unfortunately, the girls are leaving soon, with the semester over, and I’ll have to find new Germans to pester with my crazy, Arabized, Swiss-influenced German!

It was the perfect day, and perfect timing to get out of Amman. The closest we ever came to the issue of Palestine was watching the sun set over the Dead Sea and the West Bank. It looks so peaceful from Jordan’s Dead Sea Highway!

From Wadi al-Kerak

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