or, Someone Will Know (of) You Wherever You Go in Jordan!
Wadi Musa, Jordan
I’ve mentioned before how small a place Jordan is, and how closely people are connected to each other here. It was something we sometimes complained about in Peace Corps, how you could never go anywhere without being seen by someone who would know who you were and report back to your site village. On the other hand, sometimes it can be an advantage to be part of the network. This was a night for acknowledging those ties.
It started with a cup of tea last night with the owner of our hotel, Adel. Something slipped out about my being an honorary HaraHsheh, the name of the family in my Peace Corps village, which revealed that the hotelier and I were “cousins,” as he was also from the Bani Hassan Tribe. He regaled us with some fabulous, likely exaggerated, tales of how being related to his uncle, alias Abu Mas’ab al-Zarqawi, had both helped and hindered him in recent years. I’ve heard similar stories before, and I understand what it must be like to know that the most infamous terrorist in Iraq is from your tribe. After all, it’s become my tribe, too!
Then, this evening, Philip and I were walking down for another cup of tea with Adel, and I saw this Spanish guy I know coming down from upstairs. “Hey, I know you!” I exclaimed. It’s Jose, who’s friends with Abby and a number of other people I know in Amman. And he had quite a tale of woe, which he shared over a cup of tea with Adel, some other Spaniards and a Pollack travelling with Jose. They’d been in Petra for the day, and were on their way back to Amman when it started to snow. The higher they went, the more snowy and slippery it got. In Jordan, as is usually the case in south-central Pennsylvania where I grew up, they don’t start plowing until the snow is almost finished falling. So when Jose saw an ambulance leading cars in the other direction, he decided to follow it back to Wadi Musa, and ended up at our hotel.
After they’d told their story, Jose and friends went down to the pub in the Petra Palace for a much-needed beer, but they left a note with the hotelier for a girl named Miriam who was also staying at the hotel. Philip and I stuck around to accept an offer of a cup of tea from our hotelier. When it came out, and I put in two spoons of sugar, Adel started to laugh: “You really are Bani Hassan!” But then he had to get up and take a look at the hotel’s boiler, leaving Philip and I alone with our tea when the door opened and a girl walked in. The immediate words out of my mouth were, “You must be Miriam!” immediately followed by, “Wait! I know you!” We had met a week earlier while out with some mutual friends. She’s an Aussie, volunteering at a Palestinian refugee camp, and staying with a friend who works for the UN. After she’d showered, the three of us followed the Spaniards down to the pub.
And what do you know, but the Swiss couple were also at the pub! Small world.