Arriving at Jerash the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa appear in the middle of the modern city. They seem to be out of place, surrounded by the hustle of the city of Jerash. Or maybe it is the modern city that tries to match the ancient splendor of the ruins by surrounding it tighter and tighter, in the hope of soaking up its atmosphere. There are not many foreign tourists here, and the main language we hear around is Arabic. Paying the entrance fee of 10JD (international student card is not accepted) stings a bit, but the ruins will be worth it.
History of the city dates back to the Hellenistic era, and it might have been founded by Alexander the Great, but its importance lies in the fact that it is one of the best preserved Roman cities in the Near East. The sheer size of the city is incredible, imagining it at the time of its glory. The area has been inhabited for a long time, even though an earthquake destroyed the city at the end of 740s. The ruins were rediscovered by German artifact hunter at the beginning of the 1800s. Find more information about the history of Gerasa here.
We spent four hours strolling around the city. One of the highlights was sitting down in the South Theatre (which can hold an incredible amount of spectators, over 3,000), watching kids play with the echo, and listening to local musicians playing the bagpipe. Yes, the bagpipe. In Jordan. Didn't expect that. The Middle East has its own tradition of bagpipe-like instruments, but its current use dates back to the British Empire and military bands.
So the day passed calmly. No hurry anywhere. Sitting among the ruins, enjoying the warmth of the setting sun, surrounded by new friends and old ones, petting kittens, eating traditional mezes and grilled meat, drinking tea with mint. The perfect way to spend my first Friday in Jordan.
See more photos of the day below.
40% confusion: Wait, where am I? What is that view from my window? (Oh, it's a cemetery) Why is someone yelling at 5 am? (That was the prayer call from the local mosque) What am I doing here? Who am I?
20% frustration: Why can't I speak the local language? I should know the basic words! Why is there no scheduled public transportation? What should I do at work? Why is everything so expensive?
After all, excitement is the feeling that surpasses all these insecurities and calms your mind. This is where I want to be. This is what I want to do. I have no idea what I'm doing, but I am here and doing it. Finally.
Hi, everyone! I am Saana, enthusiastic explorer, and photographer from Finland, currently based in Amman, Jordan. You might have already read about me and my interests in 'Who am I' -tab. Then you already know, that I like learning, living and telling stories. I am also a big fan of starry skies, hot chocolate, horses, and mountains, in no spesific order. But why am I in Jordan, of all the places in the world?
I am spending next six months here doing my EVS volunteering in a local organization called IDare. EVS stands for European Voluntary Service, which is an Erasmus+ program offered for young people to participate in volunteering projects abroad. This is an amazing opportunity to spend a longer period of time abroad. My volunteering period is coordinated by a Finnish organization Kansainvälinen vapaaehtoistyö ry, which coordinates long-term volunteering projects abroad as well as organizes international short term voluntary projects in Finland.
In IDare I will be working on a project on preventing violent extremism (PVE). IDare is a Jordanian NGO working for empowering the youth to become transforming power in their communities and Jordanian society. I am very excited to work on this project and learn about both the Jordanian society as well as the broader theme of violent extremism. This topic has been following me this year, but I will tell more about that later.
Besides working, I am here for learning about the history, culture, and society of Jordan. I hope to walk the streets and climb the mountains. I am determined to develop my skills in Arabic and be able to communicate with people in Arabic by the end of my volunteering period. It is going to be hard, but I'll fight my shyness and just start speaking, little by little!
To my surprise, there is a horse riding stable within a 10 minutes walk from my new home. I will definitely give it a try! Not to forget that I dream of exploring Petra on horseback, but that is going to be a whole new story.
What am I doing in Amman? Where can you find the best falafels in the Middle East? How many rococo palaces can you visit in two days? Why is it a bad idea to hitchhike during shabbath? What is in Finland anyway? Why is this blog called Frankly, habibi?
You will find answers as well as new questions as I take you to a journey through my past and future adventures. You are also free to send me any questions or suggestions for topics you want me to write about, just click the Get in touch-page in the right hand corner.
You can follow the journey through Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. Links you will find in the sidebar! I will announce any new post or video on Facebook, and on Instagram you will find pictures of everyday life here. Not all these pictures will be here in the blog! I'm not really a vlogger, but some things you just have to show in video and not in pictures or writing. Please, follow me on all these channels to get the full experience!
Why is the blog called Frankly, habibi? The modified quote is actually from the film Gone With the Wind, though the full quote is "frankly, my dear (I don't give a damn)", though I would say I do give a damn about many things in this world. Habibi, is 'my dear' in Arabic. There you go! Got questions? Let me know!