I exit the minibus, the “servees,” and examine the nondescript street corner that is, apparently, the last stop. My friend and I know that we must use our negotiating skills to somehow wrangle a taxi to get from here to Um Qais, our intended destination. Within seconds, our fellow passengers have scattered and vanished. We find ourselves surrounded by several men, drivers, all offering competing prices. The prices sound high. My friend and I exchange a look. Perhaps trying to take public transport on a summer Friday during Ramadan was not the best laid plan.
We hem and haw, attempting to negotiate a lower price, Arabic numbers and emphatic no’s rolling off my tongue. Suddenly, we are no longer a part of the conversation, the drivers jostling to get closer together, arguing over who was here first. Shoulders tense, words become louder, and they begin pushing and shoving each other as the argument continues. I remain glued to my place on the sidewalk, dumbfounded that this is even happening at all. My friend breaks my trance. “We should walk away,” she says.
We locate a woman walking down a nearby street. She tells us a good price, and insists on talking to the drivers to help us secure it. “Mashallah,” she says, when we tell her we’re from America. “You girls are beautiful. I love Americans. Welcome.”
Days later, my emotions are still roiling over this whole event. The mixture of gratitude, (for that kind woman’s help) ire, (at the taxi drivers for the never-ending price run-around), and residual embarrassment all have me questioning my presence here in one way or another. All that hustle and bustle over my friend and I, just trying to get from point A to point B. However, I can’t help but feel like part of the problem. When I’m referred to as an “expat” instead of a “foreigner.” When taxi drivers try to squeeze an extra dinar out of me, not because they want to rip me off, but because they might need it more than I do. When I accept so much hospitality and help and there’s so little I can do in return. I absorb generosity like a sponge here. Saturated. So full of love, kindness, and delicious food that when tense moments like these happen, they contrast so starkly with everything else I know and love about Jordan. These moments make up a small minority. A few tiles of a mosaic. This is what I know, and what I hope I can convey to others.
With love from Amman,
In addition to my weekly blogs, I will publish occasional “microblogs” highlighting particular moments or experiences of my time in Amman.
Posted By Allyson Hawkins (Jordan)
Posted Jun 29th, 2016