By now, I’ve accepted the notion that within the limits of nature anything can happen, anytime anywhere. This doesn’t mean I would ever have expected today to happen the way it did- but sure thing, I’m super grateful it did!
I got Ahlam’s call a week ago, as I returned to Amman from my hiking trip with the Experience Jordan group: an unknown number I would have definitely ignored hadn’t I been looking at my phone right then. Her call was a mistake -she meant to contact a friend of hers- but hey. We started talking, found out we are similar in age and have extremely different lives, and TA-DAA she invited me to visit her in her town of Madaba. So I DID 🙂 and it was literally extraordinary.
It was the first time…
…I travelled in Jordan on my own.
…in doing that, I found myself to be the only female in a bus station + on a bus.
…I took a bus in Jordan!
…I was on such a slow bus (hahaha. I had been warned but didn’t want to believe it. It was fun though, I was in no rush and got to enjoy the panorama in grrrreat detail!! 😉 )
…I was on such a cheap bus, actually!!! 90 pennies for a 40k ride? No way! Hooray!!
…I visited someone I had absolutely no previous connection with, i.e. not a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend at the very least.
…I saw a group of men pray outdoors, all together on a rug.
…someone called me Angelina Jolie (more on this later).
It wasn’t the first time I travelled on a bus with a constantly open door, though- driver Rolando (or was it Orlando?) in my very hometown of Casale Monferrato likes doing that too, and he used to go super fast when I was the only one on the vehicle on the way home from school!!! 😀
So anyway. I got to Madaba’s bus station a little after midday.
Ahlam came to pick me up with her father (he’s the only one who calls me Angelina, I can confess now… but I just found it hilarious!! I look nothing like her of course) and her baby. I don’t want to say too much for respect of her privacy and her family’s, but she is super duper sweet, altruistic, awesome and adorable; and so are her mum, dad, baby, older sister and nieces I all met, chatted and spent quite some time with!
Ahlam in Arabic means dream, and it really all was like living in a dream. I think even my Arabic was suddenly better than usual, although my kind hosts speak ammiya rather than fusha (and I know fusha only). Between a chat and another I was generously offered two clove-flavoured coffees, two teas, amazing cake and this delicious food here, prepared with fresh ingredients as Ahlam’s wonderful mum is a talented vegetable-grower and chicken-raiser!!!
Maqluba with lebn (a yoghurty sauce), veggies and peanuts 🙂
After which my new friends took me to the Holy Land on Mount Nebo, where prophet Moses is believed to have found/ created/ brought to light a dozen water sources in the middle of what is practically desert!!
It was very interesting, I loved the view and was surprised to notice that Italian was the official third language there!! Seems like Italian researchers have done a lot to turn the place into the nice spot it is now 🙂
Then we toured Madaba city and, in particular, a couple of pretty cool souvenir shops; and of course, have I mentioned how incredibly generous Jordanians are? Ahlam & family got me not one, but two spectacular souvenirs I will now treasure forever ❤ (Note: I was quite shocked to see there was a sand bottle with the image of little Alan Kurdi… I wonder what the sand artist’s intention was, in making that).
And there I was, a mere -but certainly significant- 6 hours after my arrival, saying goodbye to my delightful party to take my bus back to the capital, and promising them I’d be back in November or so, for an entire weekend and together with my housemates (“Why didn’t you take them this time already?! Why don’t you sleep here tonight? Move to Madabaaaa” 😀 ).
I really couldn’t feel more blessed, lucky, honoured, grateful. And I have learnt SO MUCH, too! Hope I’ll manage to express my new knowledge in future posts. Thank you Ahlam, thank you destiny/ God/ whoever for helping us meet so randomly, thank you Jordan for being just so stunning, diverse and welcoming.
Undercover Angie 😉