Labyrinth of Mirrors

I doubt I’ve ever felt so relieved by the prospect of a cold shower as I did when I half strode, half stumbled in beleaguered triumph over the threshold of my apartment last night. Over the course of twenty-four hours I think Andrew and I clocked about twenty-five kilometres of wandering, at least ten of which on the return journey from Amman’s infinitely busier town centre. The taxi ride in cost five dinar and took five minutes. Walking back was free – and it took just over two hours, dodging some of the most reckless drivers I’ve ever seen. The rule of the road seems to be one of ‘who dares wins’; naturally, this applies to both the cabbie and the pedestrian, an endangered species in its own right. Sometimes you’ve simply got to throw caution to the wind and run for it at the nearest opening, or else you’ll be waiting at the curb all night. Nobody’s about to stop for you unless you walk out in front of them.
Amman is, by all accounts, enormous. Unfathomably so for a country bumpkin like me. It sprawls across the hills for mile after dusty mile, a myriad identical sandy high rise blocks giving it height. Each street looks uncannily alike, and you can’t even use the minarets, lit up in green neon and rising above the chaos like radio masts, for landmarks, as there’s so many of them. Apparently there are post offices everywhere, but in the twenty five kilometres we covered today, we never saw so much a sign of one. The city folk were singularly unhelpful on that front, neither knowing nor caring where a post office could be found, let alone the quasi-mythical Ali Baba language school. After nearly four hours of burning alive under the midday sun in search of the place we sought refuge in an Internet cafe on the northern edge of town, only to find, to our disbelief, that a post office, market and Ali Baba itself were all within a stone’s throw of our apartment. Sod’s Law.

So, not exactly a stellar first impression of Amman. A handful of smiles amidst the faceless tide, but not quite as friendly as, say, Taroudant. Still, orientation today was a breeze and we have our first class tomorrow – together. Team Durham forever. At last, some structure in the chaos of city life. I never thought I’d see the day. BB x

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