Last week my friend’s host brothers invited my friends and I to hike with them and their Jordanian friends through Wadi Hidan and to eat dinner after at a farm in Madhaba.
Of course, we said yes. What better opportunity to see another part of Jordan while also having the chance to become friends with Jordanians our age.
We were told to bring a towel, change of clothes, sturdy shoes, and plenty of water, but to leave our cameras at home and our glasses on the bus. This immediately raised some flags in my mind. Why couldn’t I wear my glasses or carry a camera? Were we bringing a change of clothes because we were going to get really sweaty and we would be able to take showers after, or were there other reasons?
When we asked Ahmed, Shai’s eldest host brother about our peculiar packing list, he said, “Oh, we’ll be swimming for parts of the hike.”
This just raised more flags. What kind of hike is this? When we think of hiking we think of very flat paths with an occasional hill and some rocks with some beautiful scenery. We expected a slightly taxing hike, but nothing too physically exhausting. I began to suspect that our definition of hiking was very different from the Jordanians concept of hiking.
I had to ask Aws, Shai’s younger host brother, “Is this a walk in the park, or is it a hard trail?” Interestingly, this is when I began to realize that I use many phrases that English-speaking Jordanians might not recognize, because he immediately asked, “What is a walk in a park?” I tried to explain “a walk in the park” is an idiom we use to mean pleasant or easy. However, I think something was lost in translation, because he then went on to say, “Ah, yes this is a walk in the park,” when the trail was anything but.
To make a long story short, as we hiked through a wadi (valley) that did not actually have a defined path we scaled large rocks, swam through crystal blue rivers, propelled down small cliffs, and jumped into pools of water. By the end we had basically climbed down a mountain, hiked through this valley, and climbed back up the same mountain. That was the hardest hike I’ve ever done, but I was quiet proud of myself after.
But more important than this achievement were our conversations with our fellow Jordanian hikers. Dana told us about her stay in Cananda and the differences between.. and Amman. We talked to Salem about the tourism industry and how his work with his agency allows him to travel all over the world. Aws recounted how he was forced to leave Cairo University after President Morsi was deposed this past year. We explained to them some more American idioms and the differences in accents from the North and South.
That struggle up and down the valley was therefore a blessing in disguise because one, we not only saw amazing scenery and accomplished an awesome feat, but we made our first Jordanian friends.