Cabs are the best way to get around the Amman, especially if you’re not as familiar with the bus routes or schedules. Relative to prices back in Boston, cabs here are an absolute steal. I could get from one corner of the city to the opposite one for something like $4.50JOD which is about $6.35USD. At home, I think I could get from my driveway to the next driveway for $6.35. On a GOOD day. Nevertheless, here are some *major keys* for getting cabs like a true Jordanian:
Patience is key. Waiting for cabs can take anywhere between 15 seconds and 15 minutes. Don’t be discouraged if it seems like a bunch of empty cabs are driving on by: sometimes cabbies are just done for the day and going home. You could also download Careem. It’s more expensive but useful for when you’re trying to navigate at an odd hour.
The word “aadad” is key. It means meter and it’s a good word to know. Look for the meter as you get in the taxi. Drivers sometime try to be slick and tuck it between the chairs where you can’t see it and tell you the final reading is more than it really is. If he doesn’t turn the meter on or he tells you it doesn’t work, feel free to get out. Cabs are a dime a dozen, trust.
Speaking of trust, trust is key. You may get into cabs where your driver is texting his habib, changing the radio station, rolling down his window, driving stick, and still somehow doing 80 and weaving in and out of pedestrians and other vehicles. These guys are pros. Their cars are their income so they wouldn’t do anything to put their vehicles (or their passengers) in danger.
Planning your travel outside of rush hour is key. You’re gonna be overcharged during rush hour. Most of the time, it’s not worth the hour+ wait for it to clear up and for cabs to start using the meter again. if you’re broke like me, you’d learn that 9km is a stone’s throw…walk it. (Just kidding, you just have to accept it.) Secondly, Amman traffic is on its own level. If you can avoid the “zahme,” please do. If you can’t, yikes.
This is Part III in my series about thriving in Jordan. Check out my otherposts as well!
I was just perusing some of the other travel and study abroad blogs that I follow, specifically my girl Laura, and I realised I’m really bad at posting updates of what I’m doing. I’ve been here for juuuust over 5 weeks which is so wild to think about.
The hardest part of living in Amman is really just the fact that I’m on my own in terms of a lot of things. I have never in my life had to buy my own toilet paper. So this is a really the biggest learning curve.
I have yet to explore Amman as much as I want to, mainly because I’m very much bogged down with work and also because I’m so so so broke. Even though I have my internship, I can’t get paid for it so it’s the first time since I was 16 that I don’t have an income and it’s terrifying seeing my bank account get lower and lower.
To be quite honest, my Arabic hasn’t improved as much as I had wanted it to by this point, but that’s partly because I’m very good at shying away from challenges (i.e. new vocabulary and complex verb conjugations). But what is strange is that I found I’ve “collected” a lot of words in Arabic that I could easily drop in a conversation and make someone think I’m well-versed in the language. Just the other day I said the word for stapler and, not to toot my own horn, but: the crowd went wild. It was really only a crowd of one but please let me revel in this accomplishment.
Just outside of Um Qais in Irbid
Lastly, don’t tell my mom, but I still haven’t unpacked.
Don’t fill up on bread. Drink and appetizers will be out momentarily. This is a pretty standard rule for any country, honestly.
Don’t fill up on appetizers, even if they look like a full meal. Look around, if you’re the only person going to town on the baba ghanoush and mutabbal, I think it’s safe to say there’s more food coming out.
Don’t fill up on the entree, because dessert and tea are a must.
Desserts are sweet. Sweeter than sweet. So sweet, that you can probably skimp out on the sugar in your tea. I promise you won’t need it.
Try everything, especially if you don’t know what it is.
Related to that: Learn how to say, “I’m allergic to soy and pistachios” before you chow down. Eating in Jordan is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable event, not a hospital trip.
If you don’t know how to pour tea without is spilling everywhere, enlist help, I implore you. Don’t be that guy.
Feel free to just c h i l l. There’s no need to rush through your meal. Chat with your pals and enjoy being there. Get arguileh if you’re into that.
The garcon will be by with the check. They understand that that is part of their job. There is genuinely no need to yell, “THE CHECK? THE CHECK PLEASE. GARCON, THE CHECK” over and over again.*
The biggest challenges I’ve faced in my past 5 days of being in Amman are staying warm and cooking.
I think when I decided to come do an internship in the desert I was under the impression that it would be above freezing, at least. However I didn’t realise that the apartment I’m living in was made for summer weather: marble floors and sandstone walls. I’m sure they keep the place mighty cool in the summer but for now it’s a little bit less than ideal. Lucky for me, our heater doesn’t work! Ellie and I have been making do with our lil space heater and it’s getting the job done for now. Apparently this entire region was in a polar vortex for the past week which explains why it’s been unseasonably cold and why I’ve been sleeping with a sweater, scarf, hat, and two layers of socks — all underneath my two comforters.
If that doesn’t shed light on how cold it is here, the other day a friend of mine ate dinner while wearing gloves.
Last night I decided I was finally gonna cook some of the groceries I had bought. I set up all my ingredients, chopped some stuff up, decided on my seasonings, threw everything into the pot and went to turn on the stove. It had zero idea that it was going to be a gas stove. Not even like an automatic gas stove, I mean like the kind where you get your matches and have to time the gas just right. I’ve never been more grateful for living that #ElectricStove life until that moment. Thankfully Mohammed was already in my apartment working on my heater and he told me that I needed to actually .. turn on the gas in the nearby cabinet. WHOOPS. I felt p r e t t y dumb but it’s all part of the learning experience.
I haven’t started taking my Arabic class yet nor has starting information from my internship come in so I’ve just kind of been hanging out enjoying the snow days. Can’t say I hate it.
How Not To Be An Idiot In Amman:
Wear as many layers as humanly possible, even if that exceeds what’s socially acceptable.
Turn on the gas before you try and use a gas stove.