• Switzerland's news in English
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Photo: Jordan Tourism Board

Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'

The Local · 5 Sep 2016, 11:43

Published: 05 Sep 2016 11:43 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
”My favourite time of day in Amman, no matter what season, is sunset,” Wendy Guyot tells The Local.
The Portland-native has been living in Jordan since autumn last year, so she's witnessed quite a few of them.
”The city is built upon hills, and as the sun drops down below them the buildings all change colour for a while, reflecting orange and red. Then you see the lights starting to come on in the houses, the warm glow of them inside – and a half hour later it's pitch black. It's a clear, crisp darkness, and you can see the stars shining across the hills.”
Wendy lives on the fifth floor of a building – high enough to enjoy the Amman sunset each night.
”There are a lot of bars and restaurants with rooftop bars too, though, where you can really feel the city change from day to night,” she says.
Wendy moved to Amman to work with humanitarian aid in Syria. But she says life in Jordan is nothing like what many Americans would expect of the Middle East.
”When I arrived in Jordan for the first time, my first impression was how modern everything was,” she remarks. ”People don't necessarily associate the Middle East with modernity.”
But for the most part, life in Jordan is like life...well, anywhere else.
”The stop lights, the electricity, the water, the freeways . . . it's all perfectly normal. A day in my life here is like a day anywhere,” she says. ”I walk to work, spend my day in the office, go out for dinner and drinks with friends, and walk home alone.”
But there are a few key differences – like how easy it is to meet people.
”When I moved to New York it took me a year to feel like I had a close group of friends,” Wendy explains. ”In Amman it was much quicker. It's very easy to talk to people."
And the social circles are more mixed, she says, than in many other cities. While many places develop separate ”expat communities”, Amman is a true melting pot.
”I was pleasantly surprised at how mixed the groups are,” she says. ”There are lots of aid workers from the US and Europe, but they hang out with locals who have grown up here, and people from Turkey and Lebanon who have ended up here. It's not segregated.”
In fact, she's never felt more welcomed in a city.
”Every single person, every shop keeper, says 'Welcome to Jordan!' when they meet a new foreigner,” Wendy informs The Local. ”And it feels very genuine. Jordanians are very hospitable and happy to have people living here.”
Even the local police go out of their way to make newcomers feel welcome.
”Once I was pulled over at a routine traffic stop,” Wendy recalls. ”And the policeman just looked at me and my car full of friends and exclaimed, 'Oh, welcome to Jordan!' and let us go.”
Put simply, it's easy to live there, she says.
”All of the things we're used to in the west are right here. The electricy always works; we have street lights and good internet. There's no sacrifice, no compromise in the quality of life, and yet it's unique and interesting.”
As an aid worker who has travelled around quite a bit, Wendy says that Jordan is one of the only places she has lived where she feels she can have her friends and family come visit – not just because of how safe it is, but how much there is to do.
”There's this fascinating vibe to Amman...like it's still evolving,” she says. ”There are galleries, an emerging music and art scene, and a new skate park. Recently there was a little hiphop rap festival, and there's a hip vegan brunch and popup restaurants. And now the royal family is hosting a free film festival.”
Cultural life in Amman is subtle, she says. You might not see everything that's there at a glance – you have to scratch underneath the surface.
”It's not obvious like in Beirut or Istanbul. It's not in your face. But when you seek out these Jordanian-led events, they're really cool.”

One of the higlights of her day is when the dozens of mosques throughout the city sing the call to prayer.
”I love it,” she remarks. ”Five times a day there is this great cacophany of the call to prayer, and it feels like everything slows down a bit. That's something you don't get in places like New York or somewhere else.”
There's a certain pride in Jordan, she adds – but it's humble, not arrogant.
”I really love working with Jordanians and living here,” she says. ”It's an undiscovered treasure, and when they say 'Welcome to Jordan', they mean it.”
This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by Jordan Tourism Board.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available