Alone in a Crowd

Cars. Cars everywhere. Screeching tyres. Blaring horns. Shouting. Don’t understand. The language and the heat. The expense. Can’t stand it. Need silence. Need it now.

Five days since we rocked up here in Amman and it’s finally getting to me. All things considered I’ve held out well for as long as I could, but I’m no town mouse. This is all a bit much for me. There’s simply nowhere to run, no quiet, shaded wood, no bubbling river or creek, nowhere to hide from the noise. Our apartment is next to a building site overlooking the main road. Because of the heat, work starts early, so I haven’t been sleeping well. All I want is ten minutes of silence, but it’s impossible to find. The city stretches for mile upon mile of dusty, swarmed roads in all directions. I can’t even see where it ends on a good day. It just disappears, vast and white, like a scummy wave over the hills into the middle distance. I don’t hate it here, but it’s killing me slowly.

Perhaps I’m overreacting. Cities are supposed to be exciting places to live. But right now I feel trapped, imprisoned by my own choices. I long for the green fields of Sussex and the birdsong in the oak trees like I’ve never done before. I used to think England had lost its natural beauty. Here in the desert I understand. The only animals on the street are the house crows that flap lazily overhead like miniature vultures and the hordes of scabby cats that patrol the streets, frequenting every bin and dump site in town. Nothing here is truly wild; nothing but the taxis, racing madly from end to end with no regard for the road or anybody walking on it. And if you can’t hack the walk, you’ve no choice but to hail one down. It’s the only way to get around. How could I ever live in such a place?

We’re thinking of heading out to the desert castles in the Azraq plain tomorrow with the other students. It’ll be the first bit of traveling we’ve done since we got here and I’m dying to get going. Not to see Jordan beyond the city walls, but to escape. I need air. Time. Space. And I’ve been living on borrowed time trying to get by without it. Nine months in an isolated Spanish village gets more appealing by the second. I hope my heart can bear the wait. BB x


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