A place called Salt
Note: this blog was written on May 25.
On my final full day in Jordan, I left SIT at 9am and headed to the former would-be capital of Jordan. My host mother, Mama Munira, told me and Ryan during breakfast that she was from Salt. She said that when the government sent men to scout the city, they decided that women were too pretty there for it to become Jordan’s capital. She was so happy that we were going to visit her old hometown, and she injected me with that same excitement.
Salt is a bustling city about an hour away from Amman. I joined the six photojournalism students and Rob in a little mini-bus. It was tight, but we all squeezed in for the hour-long trip.
There, I took some video of a new plumbing system being installed.
When we arrived downtown, everyone split up and explored the town.
It’s a much more quaint city than Amman is. There were far fewer tourists roaming the streets, which was a nice change of pace. As I passed a jewelry shop, I noticed that the grey-haired man behind the counter was puffing away at a cigarette. I stopped in to speak with the owner, Mosa Hyari, about the Ministry of Health’s new campaign to implement public health code 47, which outlawed smoking in public places back in 2009. Two years later, the government is beginning a campaign to enforce this law that has been mostly ignored. Even the shops with “no smoking” signs don’t actually stop anyone from lighting up. “Even if I smoke, I don’t like the habit. I’m against smoking in public places- cars, restaurants,” said Hyari. “In the beginning, it’ll be difficult,” said Hyari. “But if they’re serious, it will work.”
Valerie, Lily and I moved up and down the street, exploring this new city. Our driver then took us to his friend’s home, where we were served tea and biscuits. I met his son and daughter, who were adorable as they stood near their father, clinging to him and chewing on foot-long gummy worms. After our tea, he took us to the roof of his home.
I passed a soccer ball back and forth with his son, who was so excited to have company. The children’s joy was revitalizing.
We left soon after, bid farewell and thanked the family for their hospitality.
The people of Salt were all very friendly, just like in Amman, but were more excited to see foreigners. Everyone asked about New York, and one shop owner even gifted us ice cream. “From America?” he asked. As we nodded, he told us the ice cream was no charge. “For you, welcome.” We expressed our gratitude and enjoyed our snack on a bench across the street.
Lily called Rob to see what he had discovered in Salt, and we strolled down the hill to meet up with him. He took us to a pita bakery, where Lily helped the baker roll and flatten the dough.
He loaded the spinning oven with dough and pulled out fluffy, fresh pita bread. The bakers gave us some pita to enjoy, and it was some of the best bread I’ve ever had.
I’m glad that I got to experience a different part of Jordan. Early in the afternoon, shortly after our pita adventure, we hit the road once again and drove back toward Amman. I spent the better part of the return trip asleep and snoring with my head titled back on the seat. When I awoke, we were parked back in front of SIT.