I love a city. I crave the activity, the proximity and the constant buzz. Living in a city makes me want to drink coffee, endlessly and smoke maybe just one cigarette at a sidewalk cafe. Although, if I’ve learned anything over the years of city living, it is simply, that I can not survive without escaping the city frequently. Not only does it buy me the time to process the thousands of ideas that walks about the city inspire, but time read through my notes, and create a more thoughtful, slow output of my fast and furious ideas.
Amman is like a lanky spider, the city is the body and the thin, desert roads the legs. Legs when followed out to their dusty ends, yield treasures in the form of small towns, castles, big vistas, arid gardens and impossibly slow paced lunch scenes. At the very north of the country with nowhere left to exit, but to Syria or Iraq, lies Umm Qais, which in Arabic, means, “The Mother of Qais.” I adored both trips we made to Umm Qais. If not for its Ottoman-era Roman ruins, spring poppies and hunts for the elusive black iris, its sweeping views of the Golan Heights, Syria and on a clear day, the snow capped mountains of Lebanon beyond, but for its cliff-side restaurant, the Rest House.
The reward for most of Jordan’s adventures, like a carrot on string, is the promise of a giant lunch. Usually a table full of mezze, both hot and cold, icy lemon-mint to sip or Carakale pale ale from the country’s only brewery. And if you don’t completely stuff yourself on the mezze and bread, a mixed grill, to follow, by the kilo, to include: grilled lamb, chicken, beef and kabob. I even indulged on special occasions, in my own tall and curvy water pipe of flavored tobacco, known in Jordan as Argeela, much to the children’s surprise. I care to show them how to experience every good thing once, as we travel about the world.
Umm Qais is just as far enough from the city that tourists are still a bit of an anomaly and on the weekends big smiles are to be shared by taking selfies with packs of local teens and sweet, curious ladies.
Explore // The Ruins of Decapolis City of Gadara
Eat // Umm Qais Rest House