I am a big fan of hostels. I have never stayed at one and not met a new friend.
My first night in Amman, Jordan, I stayed at Jordan Tower Hostel. There was no bar at this hostel (ugh, the Middle East), but there was a decent sized common space. I came down to the common area to do some writing, and a lovely and very very British man named Stuart started chatting me up. I learned that Stuart worked in insurance and had a dream of visiting Las Vegas, because classy. Stuart now teaches English in Japan and rocks a kimono like nobody’s business:
I also learned that Stuart had been having a rough time in Jordan. Although Jordan is a naturally gorgeous land, Stuart hadn’t had the best luck with some of the locals. People had taken advantage of him, and in general he had not experienced a very welcoming country. His luck changed, however, when he met a German-Jordanian man on the busy streets of Amman. Stuart, ever the optimist, trusted him because why the fuck not. This man spoke both English and Arabic (and German!) and helped Stuart negotiate good prices on Jordanian items. He took Stuart to local restaurants. He became Stuart’s friend. So, as per hostel etiquette, Stuart invited me to join him and his new friend for supper. Never one to turn down an experience (or food), I gladly joined!
We met this man at a mosque nearby.
Look, I don’t know much, but I do know that you should NEVER trust a motherfucker with a fanny pack. And this motherfucker had a fanny pack.
Fanny Pack seemed a bit strange when I rolled up with Stu. I wondered if it was because I am a woman as women and men often eat separately from each other in the Middle East.
No matter, he quickly regained his composure and we walked to a nearby restaurant.
After dining on hummus and very fresh chicken (beheaded approximately twenty minutes earlier in front of us), we three decided to complete the meal with tea at a nearby cafe. The sidewalk was busy, forcing Fanny Pack to walk behind Stuart and me.
All of a sudden, we hear “TAWAQAF! TAWAQAF! STOP! STOP!” Five policemen wearing berets (about as threatening-looking as a butterfly) are running right at me and Stuart. Stuey, what a love, throws up his hands and yelps, “I didn’t do anything!” I simply stood frozen in my tracks and thought how dope it would be to star in an episode of Locked Up Abroad.
The police draw nearer.
Oh my God. They are looking right at us. They are charging right at us.
What. The. Fuck.
In a big commotion of grabbing and yelling, the policemen finally grab hold of Fanny Pack and drag him away.
What. The. Fuck.
Stuart and I stood paralyzed. Everyone was looking at us, talking wildly in Arabic. We moved over to the side, to let the foot traffic pass as we attempted to reckon what the hell just happened.
A few minutes later, one of the policemen came out. The son of a nearby shop owner spoke some English and translated what the cop said:
“That man is a very famous thief. He befriends tourists and then steals their passport, wallet, everything, and runs away to Germany. He has done this many times. When you walked past the police station, they saw him and immediately arrested him. He is in jail now.”
My first thought? THANK YOU JESUS FOR THIS ADVENTURE.
My second thought? THANK YOU JESUS THAT I AM SAFE.
My third thought? so THAT’S why he seemed displeased that I crashed their dinner! He was going to rob precious Stuart, but I cockblocked him!
The night ended quietly with me and Stu heading back to the hostel and hanging around for awhile before going to bed.
I loved Jordan. Not because of Petra or Wadi Rum, both of which were beautiful, but because I had the most exciting welcome-to-the-country adventure I could ever imagine and now a very special bond with a stranger turned friend.
(Special thanks to Stuart for letting me use his name and kimono picture in this post. I owe you Oreos, delivered in person to Japan, my friend!)