Tip #457: Adventures in Salt, Jordan- Part One
“Adventure is the champagne of life.” G. K. Chesterton
I was welcomed at the barbecue by some of Jafir’s brothers (he has seven from his mother and two from his father’s other wife), their wives and children, Jafir’s father and I think his first wife’s mother. It was very chilly, but we ate lamb chops, onions, and lamb meat on skewers roasted over the large fire and then kept warm under Jordanian bread (which is the consistency of parchment and even larger than the other loaves we purchased for breakfast.) The food was delicious.
Later, Arwa’s “sweet” was a huge hit. Most of us (including me!) had two servings (eating with spoons). An interesting observation. I was served first (as the guest). Then the oldest man, Jafir’s father, then Jafir, then the women.
They use the bread to pick up the meat and dip it in sauces (yogurt and another very spicy tomato sauce). The lamb chop bones went into a plastic bag to go home with the second wife for her cats. Unfortunately, she later discovered that the farm cats had devoured everything.
Oh, I haven’t told you the other fascinating thing about Jafir’s father. Besides having two wives, he continually smoked what we call a hookah. His first wife lives at the farm and was completely covered and wore a flowing white scarf pinned under her chin, except for her face and hands. She is clearly much older than the second wife, who wore baggy clothing and a simple headscarf- and spoke quite a bit of English.
This second wife was a real character. She was gnawing on a lamb chop and immediately handed me one and urged me to eat (this was before anyone else had any food). Then she grabbed skewers of meat for both of us (we’re talking about 12″ of meat) and told me it was best while it was hot.
Jafir’s grandfather was quite old, very skinny, wearing a red-checkered headscarf folded in a very fancy way around his face, a long beige robe and a suit jacket. The first wife’s mother was also covered from head to foot in a tent-like overdress with tiny blue flowers all over it. She also wore a flowing white headscarf pinned at the chin.
Everyone was very friendly and had lots of questions about where I live, was this the first time I was in Jordan, where had I visited in Jordan, how many children I had, etc.
The second wife has a relative in Kansas and one in Arizona. Someone else had a sister married to one of Jafir’s brothers and lived in Chicago.
Jafir’s father used to have a thriving chicken farm, but the economy took a dive and he had to rent out the farm buildings to someone else- and go to Saudi Arabia (two hours by plane) to work at a chicken farm there. He comes back every other month and stays a month.
Jafir and Arwa showed me one of the vacant chicken “coops”- it looked more like a long and wide concrete hangar. They used to let the chickens roam free on the floor.
It was lovely to sit, look at the countryside, see spring flowering trees, and hear lots and lots of birds. I haven’t heard any birds at any point previous in my trip, so this was delightful.
I’m getting very used to sitting while a conversation goes on that I can’t understand. It doesn’t appear to concern me at all.
Zain invited me to go for a walk with three other children. She showed me all of the different wild flowers. She also plucked petals from a low growing yellow flower and told me it was delicious- so I ate what she gave me. Not delicious, but not poisonous (thank goodness!)
I alternately walked and ran (mostly after Raed!). At one point, a man came riding on a horse. Zain (who is Ms. Social Butterfly) hailed him and low and behold, he stopped and proceeded to give each child a ride!
Later, when I asked Arwa if they knew him, she said that he was related in some fashion to Jafir’s family.
Part Two next week.
May your learning be sweet.